08 Mar Poorna: “Girls can get whatever they want”
At 13 years and 11 months old, in 2014, Poorna Malavath became the youngest girl to climb Everest (8848 m.). Since then, he has climbed another 3 of the “Seven Summits”, the highest mountains of each of the 6 continents and the highest in North America. In 2016 it climbed the Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, the highest mountain in Africa, with 5893 meters. In 2017, the Elbrus in Russia, the highest in Europe with 5642 meters. This year, at the age of 18, he climbed the Indian tricolor flag to the top of the Aconcagua in Argentina, which, at 6962 meters is the roof of the American continent. And all to show that “Girls can get whatever they want.”
In 2000, Poorna was born in a small town called Pakala, in Nizamabad district, Telangana state of India. Nizamabad is one of the 250 most backward districts in India (out of a total of 640), where only 86% of the women are literate. Her parents, farmers like most of the inhabitants of the region, supported Poorna just like her older brother, which is rare in her country. However, his village was small and his school even more, so she left to enter the Telangana social services boarding school. That’s where she was recruited for a climbing camp.
Then Poorna’s new life really began. Discovering climbing was an epiphany for Poorna and soon began to emerge among the other camp-goers. Among 110 children, Poorna was chosen along with 19 others for the “Operation Everest” program. The idea of the program was to take a boy and girl to the top of Everest, to demonstrate the ability of the Indian school system. And wow, they showed it! After 8 months of training, climbing Mount Renock (6400 m.) and acclimatizing in Ladakh, she and another boy from the program, Anand Kumar, 17, marched to Nepal to climb the world’s highest mountain. When Poorna first saw Everest, she told her coach: “It’s not that high. We can turn that up in a day.”
On the day they arrived at Base Camp there was an avalanche in the Icefall (complicated step on the ascent to Everest) and at least 16 sherpas left life on the mountain. When those responsible for the program informed Poorna and her partner, they decided to pursue their plans, despite the insistence that they return home. 52 days later, the two spent 15 minutes on top of the world.
While many of her village girls married much older men and gave their lives to their care and their childs, Poorna climbed mountains. Her goal, she said, was to “prove that girls can get whatever they want.” Since then she has traveled the world pursuing her goal of climbing the 7 Summits and spreading her message:
“We have very few opportunities, so when you have one, you have to take advantage of it. A lot of people will say to you, “You can’t do this, you can’t do that, ” but we can do anything because we’ve been born winners and anything is possible.”
Quite an example of struggle and overcoming, isn’t it? His inspiring story has been brought to the cinema (“Poorna” 2017), film that, from Malamalama, we want to recommend, so if you have no plan these days, connect to Netflix and enjoy the adventures of this Indian girl who had the courage to stand up to those who told him what he could not do
- THE HINDU: https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/we-are-born-winners-and-anything-is-possible/article17676273.ece
- PHOTOS: https://www.facebook.com/poornamalavath/