In 2019, when Cyclone Fani devastated Odisha, Rojalin Pradhan was alone at the Radio Namaskar studio broadcasting important information and updates to make people alert and aware. Rojalin has been with Radio Namaskar since its inauguration on February 12, 2010. Known as Roji didi, she is a popular voice and face in Konark. Rojalin has dreams to do some good work for her community – especially women and children. You can find her wherever there are rights and people centered issues.
For her, unconditional social work has been a way of life since the past last 20 years. “But (I still have) miles to go and more to do,” she says. Rojalin Pradhan is the eldest daughter of her parent Laxmidhar Pradhan and Hemalata Pradhan, and resident of Ichhapur village in Gop block under Puri district of Odisha. Her father is an ordinary farmer and mother is a homemaker. She grew up with four sisters and two brothers in an environment where gender discrimination remains a challenge. Her neighbours continually attempted to convince her mother to believe that a first born girl child was not good for them. Hearing comments like these during her childhood convinced her to pursue a life that would make her parents proud. Encouraged by the school head master, she decided to practice social work.
When Rojalin was in class eight, she heard about an old woman who was denied pension despite her eligibility. She talked to the village Sarpanch about the issue and within a few days the old women received their due pension. This incident encouraged her to help more people who were facing similar problems.However, this was not so easy. She faced criticism from her own community. Rojalin was undeterred. She ignored the discrimination and created her own identity. She points out that her family, especially her parents, was very supportive and responsible for her success. “My family encouraged me to do social work in my life,” she says.
Rojalin’s life has been far from easy. An uncle who had been very supportive and encouraging passed away during her matric board exam . His demise affected her career and her family found themselves in a financial crisis. Her parents were worried about how to manage such a large family. It was then that Rojalin decided to support her parents. She stopped her education after the board exam and supported her father in his agricultural activities as well as her mother in cooking and house work. She also ensured that her brother and sisters continued their education without any disruption. Today, all her brothers and sisters have successfull careers.
Rojalin currently works with Radio Namaskar, Odisha’s first community radio, which started broadcasting in 2010. Before joining Young India (the parent organization of Radio Namaskar) in 2008, Rojalin had worked in different organizations, but, she found that Radio Namaskar was a platform to fulfil her desires of bringing change in her community.
Recently Radio Namaskar celebrated its 10th year anniversary. Rojalin points out that over the past decade Radio Namaskar has served as an effective medium for social change and development though ation dissemination and awarenss building. The radio station covers about 700 villages and reaches about four lakhs of population in Gop, Kakatpur, Astaranga and Nimapara blocks in Puri district.
Rojalin has personally interacted and solved the problems of more than 2000 people including the elderly , widows, and persons with disabilities. Through the radio station she has made the community aware of pension schemes, and also connected Awas Yojana beneficiaries and other central and state government scheme beneficiaries with the appropriate authority.
For her selfless works toward social and community service, Rojalin received the Odisha Media Award as Best Community Reporter in 2015, Best Social Worker Award by ActionAid in 2016 and Best Youth Reporter award by UNICEF in 2019. Her work and dedication have been recognized and felicitated by several social and developmental organizations. Rojalin credits N A Shah Ansari, Chairperson, Radio Namaskar and Namaskar community newspaper, and President, Community Radio Association, India for her achievements. More power to her.