Honorable Birubala Rabha, the founder of Mission Birubala is known for her strong determination and upright nature. She was born in the year 1949 to Sagarbala Rabha and Kaliaram Rabha in a remote village named Thakurbila of Goalpara District in Assam-Meghalaya border area. As a child she lived a very simple life – unaware of the atrocities of the cruel society. However, the ugly features of the society couldn’t stay hidden from her for too long and her subconscious mind started bothering her to fulfill the duties that she had towards the society. She started her formal education in a local school, but, was unable to study beyond 3rd standard due to the looming poverty in the family. Her lack of formal education, however, couldn’t stop her from playing an active role in the important issues of the society.
Married at fifteen, she had to take responsibility of a new household at a very tender age. She became actively involved in her conjugal life and started weaving clothes in a traditional handloom so that she could earn some extra money to support her family. Moreover, she also began cultivating seasonal crops in the mountains. Everything was going well in her family until her 12 year old son was diagnosed with some mental ailment in 1985. A few years later her husband also started falling ill frequently. Some of her irrational neighbors started looking at her in suspicion for her son’s and husband’s illness. Slowly a rumor started in the village about Birubala Rabha practicing witchcraft. The suspicion of the villagers took a strong hold when another hell broke loose in her life. Her husband got diagnosed with throat cancer and eventually died in 1996. The locals thought that it was the negative impact of her witchcraft practice that is making her family members suffer. Even in such moments of great despair, Birubala Rabha showed strong determination and boldly withstood extreme mental tortures.
Role in the Society
Every business has a beginning, and this is where you talk about yours. People want to know what opportunity you saw or how your passion led to the creation of something new. Talk about your roots--people wanna know you have some.
Birubala Rabha played a very vigorous role in various social problems of the villagers right from the beginning. She was persistent in doing something that would prove beneficial for the society. In order to fulfill this dream, she brought together some of the fellow women of the village and formed a Mahila Samiti (Women’s Association) in Thakurbila in 1985. After actively leading these women for several years she thought of extending the vicinity of the Association to a regional level. Thus, Borjhara Anchalik Mahila Samiti (Borjhara Regional Women Association) came into existence under her guidance in 1992.
On 15th of September, 2001, the Borjhara Anchalik Mahila Samiti along with Mahila Samata Society organized a meeting to discuss the issues related to Witch hunting in Dodan Mandir, Borjhara. Birubala Rabha, being an important member of the society, fearlessly expressed her views against Witch hunting in front of a large crowd. However, her daring declaration that Witches don’t exist offended her fellow villagers. These displeased men held a meeting on 13th of October, 2001 and asked her to change her views if she wished to live in this society. However, this fearless woman refused to succumb to such social pressures and stood determined about her declaration.
Awards and Recogntion
The active role played by Birubala Rabha in eradication of Witch hunting is an inspiration for many who wish to bring a positive change to the world. She has been felicitated with numerous awards and other recognitions in India as well as abroad throughout these years. The most important among them are briefly mentioned below:
- Nomination to Noble Peace Prize: (2005): The hard work of Birubala Rabha was recognized by the Noble Peace Prize Committee in the year 2005. By nominating her for this respectable Award, they identified her as a rare jewel who toils day in and day out to make this world a better place to live in.
- Real Heroes: (2005): Our Chief Functionary, Birubala Rabha, was recognized as a “Real Hero” of India by IBN 18 Network and Reliance Group in the year 2005
- Samajpran Sarbeswar Dutta Memorial Award: (2011): In 2011, Birubala Rabha was awarded with the prestigious Samajpran Sarbeswar Dutta Memorial Award by S.I. Foundation, Jorhat (Assam).
- Urmila Das Memorial Award: (2011): This Award was bestowed upon her by the Assam Academy, Guwahati for her persistent works towards the society.
- Joymoti Award: (2012): The Dibrugarh Ladies Club awarded the prestigious Joymoti Award to this courageous woman in 2012.
- Man of the Year Award: (2013): The Ingkhang Welfare Society of Kokrajhar District in Assam felicitated Birubala Rabha with the prominent Man of the Year Award in the year 2013.
- Biranggana Mulagabhoru Award: (2014): In 2014, The Sivasagar Sonari Tai Ahom Yuva Parishad recognized the significant work of Birubala Rabha with the Biranggana Mulagabhoru Award.