Despite odds, Dhanya on track to become first pilot from Kerala's tribal communities

K M Dhanya. Photo: Manorama

Kottayam: K M Dhanya, a youngster hailing from Vakathanam village in Kottayam district of Kerala, was among the few people invited to interact with President Droupadi Murmu in Thiruvananthapuram during the latter's recent visit to the state.

Dhanya earned the invitation as a reward for her persistence in pursuing her dream of becoming a pilot overcoming severe obstacles. In fact, Dhanya is close to achieving the honour of becoming the first pilot belonging to the Scheduled Tribe communities in Kerala.

Turning point

Dhanya was inspired by the Malayalam movie ‘Uyare’ while doing a course at the polytechnic and flying an aircraft became her ambition in life. She also came to know that she could learn flying at Rajiv Gandhi Academy for Aviation in Thiruvananthapuram – a state government institution - with a scholarship. However, Dhanya realized that admissions to the academy were over and she could apply again only after one-and-a-half years. Returning to Vakathanam from Thiruvananthapuram, Dhanya joined a Plus Two course in distance education mode.

Hurdles all along

Unfortunately, Dhanya did not receive the hall-ticket for the Plus Two (Class 12) exams due to an error committed by the institute where she studied during exam registration. Dhanya was distraught over this development as she could not write the exam and lost five months of her academic career for no fault of hers.

Some months later, a private aviation academy in Thiruvananthapuram contacted Dhanya and offered a Plus Two course along with a part-time job.

Dhanya’s father Mahesh, a cleaning worker at the local body, supported his daughter in realizing her dream and even though he and Dhanya’s mother Bindu could not afford the expenses, they asked Dhanya to join the private institution.

The fee alone at the academy was Rs 3 lakh. But, the academy gave special consideration to Dhanya and allowed delayed payment.

Naysayers all-around

Recalling those days, Dhanya said, “Everybody blamed my parents for our financial troubles. Whenever I came home from Thiruvananthapuram, people asked me whether I had failed in the exams.”

“Noticing my plight, my father told me that I needn’t come to Vakathanam. ‘You stay at Thiruvananthapuram itself,’ he said to me in tears. I even dreaded stepping out of my house fearing the interrogation of the local people,” said Dhanya.

Crucial lap

Currently, Dhanya has completed all preliminary procedures to join a flying course, which she will be pursuing either at Rajiv Gandhi Academy in the Kerala capital or at the Madhya Pradesh Flying Club.

It was at this stage she was invited to meet the President of India. Meanwhile, Dhanya realizes that she is yet to achieve the distinction of being the first tribal pilot from Kerala as there are more challenges to overcome. Still, the youngster is certain that her dream would certainly come true one day.

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