Padma Shri awardees Keepu Lepcha and Draupadi Ghimiray with members of the Women’s Club of Chandmari in Gangtok, Sikkim

Gangtok: Draupadi Ghimiray is a nurse by profession. However, in 1999, she took it upon herself to help those with physical disabilities and provide comprehensive service to them. Today, she and her NGO, Sikkim Viklang Sahayata Samiti, are a household name among the people of the region.

Ghimiray helps people with artificial limbs and hands and also provide free cleft palate surgeries.

A recipient of several state and national awards for her selfless contribution, the social activist was awarded India’s fourth highest civilian award — Padma Shri — in January this year.

Similarly, Keepu Tsering Lepcha is an Indian social worker, educationist, former civil servant and the founder of the Human Development Foundation of Sikkim (HDFS), an NGO serving the socio-economically challenged people of Sikkim. In recognition of her contribution to society, Lepcha was also awarded the Padma Shri in 2009.

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Ghimiray and Lepcha were felicitated by the Women’s Club of Chandmari at a function held in the locality on Sunday. Rinchen Ongmu, the first woman minister of Sikkim and a resident of Chandmari, was also present at the function.

Chandmari, located about 2 km from state capital Gangtok, is also home to the two Padma Shri awardees.

“I am really happy to see my daughters acknowledging my efforts and motivating me even more to serve the society. I was and will continue with my service,” said Lepcha, while expressing her happiness during the programme.

Lepcha runs a children’s home, popularly known as Lepcha Cottage, in Chandmari.

Likewise, Ghimiray too shared her happiness for being felicitated alongside Lepcha, who she said has always been her idol. “Thank you to all the lovely ladies for the recognition. This proves that Chandmari is a socially influenced area where women are aware about their responsibilities towards society rather than just their family and home. There is no better feeling than being rewarded by your friends and well-wishers,” said Ghimiray.

2019 Padma Shri awardee Draupadi Ghimiray (right)

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2009 Padma Shri awardee Keepu Lepcha 

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