Like many 35-year-olds, Rekha Mishra is married and has a job she loves. But unlike the average person, she has rescued over 950 runaway and trafficked children.
As a Railway Protection Force policewoman in Mumbai, India, she commits an act of bravery every time she punches the clock and starts her workday. But for her, it’s not just a job. It’s a dream she’s been working toward her entire life!
Her father, who is one of her main inspirations, served in the Army and instilled a value of service in Rekha at a young age, taking her to feed stray dogs and pulling over to have her turn off an overflowing water tap at a park. As a result, she decided early on to dedicate herself to “a life of service” and studied day and night leading up to her sub-inspector exams.
“The day I passed, my father saluted me — ‘Always work for a cause, not the applause,’ he said,” Rekha told Humans of Bombay.
Eventually, she was assigned to a post at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus train station in Mumbai. Her sole duty was to prevent the trafficking of women and children.
Based on her success rate, she has clearly fulfilled her mission with excellence — and she has the stories to prove it!
One of her most incredible memories is of a time when another police force told them to be on the lookout for a 45-year-old kidnapper who had been on the run for three days with a 15-year-old girl.
“The situation was tense,” Rekha said. “I couldn’t allow the kidnapper to get away! As I saw the girl boarding the train, I grabbed her hand and pulled her aside while my team surrounded the kidnapper and arrested him. She cried and yelled, ‘Thank you, thank you for saving me!'”
Yet despite the acts of heroism that Rekha performs every day, she still gets asked the same classic question most woman receive: When is it going to be time for kids?
To that, Rekha coolly replies, “I spend 12-14 hours at the station every day, and I’m proud of my duty! Children aren’t the only things that make a woman a woman — sometimes it’s her ambition, her relentlessness.“
But even in the midst of those who try to make her feel like she is not suited for her job, Rekha receives moments of confirmation and empowerment.
“Random people come up to me and say things like, ‘Ma’am, I read about you rescuing that child!’ and ‘I want to be like you someday,'” Rekha said.
In 2017, she received the ultimate vindication: India’s president, Ram Nath Kovind, honored her with the Nari Shakti Puraskar award for her fierce and outstanding contributions toward women’s empowerment.
We can’t think of a more fitting reward for this deserving candidate!
As Rekha puts it, “I just hope that through what I do, girls everywhere realize that they can be the heroine of their lives and that they have the power within them to write their own stories.”
We have chills! Thank you, Rekha, for your noble accomplishments and courageous work! The world is made infinitely better by heroes like you.
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