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Andhra Pradesh - Vijayawada Printer Friendly Page   Send this Article to a Friend

A race from rags to real riches

P. Sujatha Varma



WE MADE IT: Ramu, Prabhakar and Santosh tell their success story in Vijayawada. - PHOTO: CH. VIJAYA BHASKAR.

VIJAYAWADA: Their smile is warm, camouflaging pain if any. Each of the three boys has a story to tell -- tinged by circumstances, tears and laughter.

Prabhakar (19), Ramu (21) and Santosh (22) are three ordinary persons who displayed exemplary courage to overcome hurdles. The boys would have drifted away from the mainstream, but for the timely support of the Vasavya Mahila Mandali (VMM), a voluntary organisation that extended a healing touch to their wounds.

Sad past

Prabhakar was an orphan who woke up to harsh realities of life on a railway platform in Renigunta. At Seetarampuram village in Vizianagaram district, Ramu's father always came home drunk and thrashed his mother, while he watched helplessly. Unable to bear the agony, he left home and boarded a train to Vijayawada. Santosh's desire to lead a respectable life prompted him to leave home at Sompeta in Srikakulam district.

As a child, Prabhakar roamed with rag pickers who shared their meal with him, as he was the youngest of all. Navjeevan Balbhavan here took the boys under its wings and Prabhakar was sent to the Don Bosco English Medium School. Unable to cope, Prabhakar returned to pavements. The VMM's outreach workers again motivated him to attend the awareness meetings on HIV/AIDS. A prolonged association with the VMM paved the way for his selection as a peer educator.

Santosh was a coolie and carried loads of fish boxes on the beaches of Goa. He was a waiter and later a cook in a small restaurant in Vijayawada and a rickshaw-puller in the market area, before he was picked up by the VMM volunteers. Ramu, who was a rag picker, consumed alcohol and slept in railway stations before being introduced to the happier side of life.

Purpose to live

Soon, the boys realised that they had a purpose to live and today they are basking in their academic glory. Though Prabhakar, on completion of their SSC, joined polytechnic with an NGO's sponsorship in Guntur, he had to call it off midway owing to withdrawal of aid. Unfazed, he and his two friends appeared for BA entrance exam of Andhra University for a correspondence course June this year, even as they were working as VMM volunteers. All three passed with distinction. Prabhakar secured 148/200, Santosh 144/200 and Ramu 94/200.

They are keen on pursuing BA in Sociology, so that they can prevent others of their age from losing track of the good things in life.

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