Sita Debi, a well known Gandhian sarvodayee worker of erstwhile Koraput district passed away at the age of seventy. As an orphan in Kujendri Ashram she was taken care of by Late Biswanath Patnaik, commonly known as “Agnayan & Koraputia Gandhi”. At the age of eleven, she took basic training under Smt Shanti Debi, a Jamnalal Bajaj Awardee in a nondescript inaccessible tribal village named Sankhulipadara. She then joins Naba Jiban Mandal in Angul run by Malati Choudhury, wife of the then Chief Minister Nabakrushna Chaoudhury. After this she started her life as a full fledged Gandhian Sarvodaya worker in Bonda hills of Malkangiri and spread messages against liquor, girls’ education, etc.
During this hectic life, she got married to Khadi Mandal and sarvodayee worker Sri Jayaram Jena who meticulously guided the life and work of Sita Debi. Jena encouraged her wife to take the cudgel against exploitation in forest villages of Koraput like Lataput and Jangidiwalsa in Narayanpatna. She also worked on health aspects of pregnant women and made them aware against the blind beliefs.
“The journey of an orphan girl like Sita Debi to a renowned Gandhian worker in erstwhile Koraput district is certainly noteworthy.She will ever be remembered for her commitment to the cause of poor people”, said Dr.D K Mohanty, professor of political science in Rayagada Women’s College during a condolence meeting organised at Seva Samaj where Dr.Ratan Das, Sri Hansaraj Mishra, Sri Badal Tah, Sri Kirti Chandra Sahu, Sri Madhusudan Sahu,District Culture Officer Sri Jagannath Prasad Raiguru, Municipality Vice-Chairman Dr.Niranjan Buxi Patro, Advocate Sri Braja Nayak, Contractor Sri Kasi Samal. Dr.Rama Chandra Patnaik, Smt Bidulata Huika, Smt Santi Debi, Sri Bijaya Baboo, Smt Pramila Swain, Sri Kedar Panda, Kumari Saraswati Sahu, Kumari Rajeswari Dalai, Ku Basanti Jena, Kumari Parbati Mallick, Sri Hemanta Nayak and many other dignitaries were present alomgwith the orphan girls of Seva Samaj.
Sita Debi is survived with husband Sri Jayaram Jena,also an eminent social worker and ex-councillor and only one son who is a horticulture officer at Jeypore and a daughter, a headmistress in a residential high school.