Vadagara is a tiny hamlet situated at the top of a hill in Ankola taluka of Uttar Kannada district in Karnataka. It is really a uphill task reaching this hamlet. One has to track at least for one and a half hour through thick forest full of bears and poisonous snakes. Bus, which makes only tow trips a day, and tempos are the mode of transport to this place. But one needs to walk six kilometres after alighting. It is here where Kunajis-Marathi-speaking Vanvasis, have made their home. One needs to cover a fair distance to go from one house to another and water is available throughout the year in the form of small streams flowing through the hills.
It is in this unfriendly terrain, Smt Shivaleela, who hails from a village called Hospete of Haveri district, works as a sevavrati at Marikamba Shishu Mandir of Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram. I, along with her and Thimmanna, a member of the Managing Committee of the Shishu Mandir, travelled by tempo to the nearest place where any vehicle can go to and then started walking with a torch in hand. By the time we reached Vadagara, it was late night. My inner-self was just appreciating the fearless nature and determination of this sevavrati and also prayed in mind that I should not be welcomed by any snake or bear, thankfully nothing happened.
As soon as I reached Shri Thimmanna'shouse at Vadagara, we were welcomed by the two tiny tots?Shantala aged three and a half, Poornima aged two?who have picked up Kannada after started attending the Shishu Mandir for the last eight months and displayed their talents by reciting rhymes, shlokas, bhajans and also performed dance. One of the inhabitants, Shri Bhaskar, who came to meet me, recalled with gratitude the service of Shivaleela, praised her for her work and compared her to oasis in desert, who has come to change their lives and has become Mataji of the village.
It is the nature of a sevavrati to impart good things among people and also at the same time imbibe the good things present in the people with whom she works. No wonder, she has won the hearts of the people and has become Mataji for them.