Bhubaneswar: Love knows no boundaries. This saying has become true for a German woman who not only tied the knot with a differently-abled man from Sonepur in Odisha but also left her lucrative teaching profession in United Kingdom to assist her husband to set up an eco-village and a school for the deaf in his home district.
Ulrik Jesan along with her husband Shivaji Panda, a former professor at University of Central Lancashire in UK, has set up Sikha Eco-Village and Happy Hands School for the Deaf near the banks Mahanadi river at Lakhanpur in Binika block of Sonepur district.
Panda, a resident of Sindurapur near Binika, had completed his graduation from a college in Sonepur before moving to Australia to pursue higher studies.
Panda, who has been suffering from hearing impairment since his birth, had completed his Master’s degree in Sign Language from Australia. Subsequently, he got an opportunity to work as a professor in Sign Language at University of Central Lancashire, where he met Ulrik.
Despite knowing Panda’s hearing impairment, Ulrik fell in love with him. They got married in a court in London.
Soon after their wedding, Ulrik learnt about the culture and tradition of Odisha and India. She started wearing sari and other Indian clothes.
The couple later bought a piece of land near the banks of Mahanadi in Sonepur and set up an eco-village.
With an aim to do something for the hearing impaired children, the couple left their teaching profession in UK and established a school for the deaf at their eco-village.
The couple has raised at least 60 varieties of trees and plants in the eco-village, which is now attracting many nature lovers and environmentalists from across the globe.