After Mt Everest, Adivasi girl sets her goals high

After Mt Everest, Adivasi girl sets her goals high

Poorna Malavath,  the Adivasi girl who climbed Mt Everest when she was 13 years, wants to become an IPS officer and serve the nation. She is keen on completing her education and conquering mountains in Australia and other parts of the world.

After successfully climbing Kilimanjaro in Africa and a month-long promotion of her biopic Poorna, made by Rahul Bose, she took time to sit back and plan her future.

Poorna from Pakala in Nizamabad district of Telangana is lucky to have a father who is committed to provide her good education. Devidas Malavath and Laxmi Malavath sent their daughter to a social welfare hostel for education.

“As I was the only earning member in the family and have son Naresh Malavath to raise, I have sent Poorna to the social welfare hostel, where the boarding and lodging are free,” Devidas, who now coordinates and accompanies Poorna during her assignments, said.

It was at the hostel that she was picked up for the rock climbing expedition at Bhongir in Nalgonda district of undivided Andhra Pradesh. “I was one of the 20 students selected for the training. When I first saw the Bhongir rock, I was terrified but I followed my instincts. I was able to find small crevices on the rock that supported my ascent,” Poorna, who was born on June10, 2000, recalled.

 The selectors were astonished as she finished the task without ropes. The art of climbing came very naturally to the teenager.

R S Praveen Kumar, IPS officer and the Secretary of the then Andhra Pradesh Social Welfare Residential Educational Institutions Society, granted Rs 75 lakh for the training of the underprivileged at the Mountaineering School in Darjeeling. After her basic training at the Mountaineering School she was sent to Ladakh for an advanced training. 

“Finally, I and S Anand Kumar from Khammam were selected for an expedition to Mt Everest. We were given eight months of rigorous training under Bachenpally Sekhar Babu, chief coach, to improve our physical fitness,” she said. Sekhar was the first individual to climb the mountain without being part of a team. Poorna was made to run 28 km every day, and was trained in Yoga too. 

During that period Poorna climbed 17,000 feet Mt Renook in the Kanchenjunga range, acclimatising herself to the harsh climate and high altitude conditions.

“When I first saw Mt Everest from a distance, it looked small and I told my coach that I could do it in just one day,” Poorna says, recalling her first tryst with the mighty mountain. Her impressions of the 52-day expedition later changed when she saw several bodies trapped in snow on the way to the summit. “I was terrified initially, but the fear quickly turned into respect for those bravehearts. I remembered my mentor Praveen Kumar sir who took pains to send us this far, took a breath and it motivated me to go higher and higher,” Poorna recalled.

Poorna also overcame the fear of death as she continued even when 15 climbers lost their lives in an avalanche while they were climbing the mountain. On May 25, 2014, Poorna along with Anand Kumar conquered Mt Everest at the age of 13 years 10 months, becoming the first-ever girl to do so. Poorna spent about 15 minutes on the top before returning to the base camp. “Then I called Praveen Kumar sir and said that the mission was accomplished,” Poorna said.

Talking about her experience at the base camp, Poorna said her only problem was with the packaged food. At the training camp we were given good food.  “But when you are climbing in sub-zero temperatures you get to eat only packaged food made especially for mountaineers. I hated that food as I felt like throwing up,” she added.

On the movie Poorna, she said that she would be happy if that movie fares well at the box office. “I have been to Mumbai, Bengaluru and Delhi for the promotion of the movie made by Rahul Bose, who has played the role of Praveen Kumar. There is enthusiasm everywhere and people said that they wanted to see more footage from my climb, unfortunately we don’t have much of that footage,” Poorna said.

She attended the screening of Telugu version of Poorna at a theatre in Nizamabad town along with her father. She is happy that in many places like Chandigarh schoolchildren, particularly girls, were shown the movie to motivate them.

“I always wanted to show the world that a girl can achieve anything,” Poorna said. It is a common belief that girls are frail and can’t take up challenges and I wanted to show that yes we can, and I did,” Poorna said. Her feat not only got her a reward of Rs 25 lakh and a piece of land from Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, she also signed a contract with a Pune-based mineral water firm for endorsing its product.

The Adivasi members of the Telangana state Assembly demanded replacement of tennis ace Sania Mirza with Poorna as the state brand ambassador. “Imagine an Adivasi girl climbing the Mt Everest in the first attempt. She is a daughter of an agricultural labourer and not from a rich background,” Seetha Ram Naik, an Adivasi legislator in the Telangana  Assembly, said.

Poorna, who has completed her Intermediate, will be now leaving for Australia very soon. “Poorna also got an offer from the US where she will be given a chance to climb mountains with all expenses paid,” a proud Devidas said.


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