Hyderabad: Bhawna Dehariya, a 29-year-old woman from Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh, was preparing to climb Mount Elbrus, the highest peak in Europe, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. International flights were suspended and a countrywide lockdown was enforced.

Bhawna brought laurels for the country when she successfully scaled Mount Everest, the highest mountain peak in the world and in Asia, on 22 May 2019. She has also conquered Kosciuszko, the highest mountain peak in Australia, and Mount Kilimanjaro and Cerro Aconcagua, the highest peaks in Africa and the Americas, respectively.

"I was fully prepared for my next summit when the lockdown happened. In the meantime, I also got married and now I am nine-months pregnant," Bhawna tells NewsMeter.

While a woman's dreams and ambitions may take a backseat once she gets pregnant, Bhawna continues to prepare even during her pregnancy. "I was in class 7 when I decided to climb Mount Everest. The dream of climbing the world's highest peak took a toll on me as even after preparing for more than 10 years, I did not have any sponsor to help me achieve my dream," says Bhawna.

She waited four years for sponsorship when finally the Madhya Pradesh government came to her aid. She is the first woman from the state to climb Everest.

"My oxygen cylinder started leaking during my expedition to reach the Everest summit. I had to wait for over an hour to manage my breathing in -45 degrees. My Sherpa asked me to go back, but I was determined to achieve my goal. I borrowed a cylinder from the Sherpa and headed alone to the summit," says Bhawana.

She says she has made several sacrifices to achieve her goals. "From my past experience, I learned that training and hard work is everything to climb any peak in the world. My goal to climb all the peaks in all seven continents has kept me motivated during my pregnancy. I regularly work out and keep myself fit to achieve my dream, and post-delivery I will start the next expedition" she adds.

Bhawana hails from a small tribal-dominated village of Tamia in the Chhindwara district of Madhya Pradesh. Her goal now is to scale Mount Elbrus, the highest peak in Europe, Vinson Massif, the highest peak in Antarctica, and McKinley in North America. She also holds the Guinness World Records to promote and popularise Indian Himalaya.

She has also represented the All India Softball Championship held in Kochi in 2017, and is a national Player of Basketball Championship at school level held in Jabalpur and also represented the 12th Junior (Girls) Cycle Polo National Championship.

Sumit Kumar Jha

Sumit Kumar Jha is currently a multimedia journalist with Newsmeter. An alumnus of Hyderabad Central University and Amity University, he has interned with The New Indian Express and CGNet Swara. Sumit has also worked with video production houses in Mumbai as an assistant director in shows like 21 Sarfrosh for Discovery Jeet. He is specialised in Video Production. He was also the contributor at PARI network. Hailing from rural Bihar has spent his childhood shifting from places and people. Growing up he felt the need to document the lives and dreams of rural India. A lover of visual storytelling goes around the cities to search for Stories. He primarily reports on civic, human interest and data stories.

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