Inspirational story: From Meghalaya's rat-hole coal miner to MBBS doctor


Thursday, 16 May 2024 (10:22 IST)
(Photo: Facebook/Kamphereiei Pala)
Shillong: In a remarkable story of hard work and perseverance, Dr. Kamphereiei Pala has emerged from the depths of coal mines to become a doctor and give the world a healing touch.
Pala, a native of Moolamylliang village in Meghalaya’s East Jaintia Hills district, completed his MBBS degree from Gauhati Medical College and Hospital in Assam and is currently doing his internship at the same institute.
“I have worked as a coal miner. I had to crawl inside the rat-hole coal mines to pay my school fees and also to help the family financially,” Pala said.
Pala said that in his journey so far, several people, including the We Care Foundation, founded by gastroenterologist Dr. Bishnu Ram Medhi, David Kharsati, and others, have mentored and helped him financially pursue his studies.
During his school days, when he was in classes 8, 9, and 10, Pala said, “I earned Rs. 500 to 600 per day crawling inside the coal mine over 200 metres every day to scrape coal inside a labyrinth of shafts.”
“One day I lost in the labyrinth of the rat hole coal mine one winter. I thought it was the end of my life. I cried for help and was crying in one of the deep mazes, and thankfully the manager of the coal mine heard my cries and helped me out,” the young doctor recalled.
Pala is one of the four children brought up by a single mother, who also worked as a coal miner, in Moolamylliang village.
“I had to work right from the time I was in class 4 or 5. I worked in shops, as a handyman and many others, and then as a coal miner,” he said.
Pala now plans to complete his postgraduate degree in paediatrics so that he can interact directly with mothers and their families.
“I want to serve my people in East Jaintia Hills district so that this cycle of poverty arising from early marriage and broken families can be stopped,” he said.
Unscientific ‘rat-hole’ coal mining has been banned in the unregulated mines in Meghalaya since April 2014 by a National Green Tribunal order, but illegal mines like this one have flourished freely due to poor enforcement of the ban.

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