An encouragement to striving hands
Fourteen year old Koteshwar Rao is affectionately called 'Koti' which means 'millionaire' in Telugu language. But on the contrary, Koti strives hard for a living. A student of Standard X in Zilla Parishad High School, Aganampudi, Vizag District, Koti is quite independent by nature. He dreams to join the armed forces and protect the country. This silent boy manages the class in the absence of his teacher.
His grandmother, Devudamma, aged 65 years, is his saviour. A few years ago, Koti lost both his parents over a span of just one year. He had witnessed the suffering of his father due to Cancer and his mother from Tuberculosis. His elder sister Jyothi is married and has her own responsibilities. His uncle who resides close by tries to help Koti and his grandmother even though he himself earns very little as a daily wage labourer in a factory.
At a very young age, Koti experienced lot of hardships in life. Right from then, the two vulnerable souls lend their support to each other and manage their lives. His grandmother gets an old age pension of Rs 200 for an entire month and quite obviously struggles to manage the house with this small amount. Koti helps his grandmother by delivering newspapers and earns Rs 300 to support the family. He wakes up early morning at 3:45 am and delivers newspaper to about 50 houses by a cycle lent by his newspaper agency owner. His grandmother proudly says, "My grandson helps me even at home. I feel sad that at a very young age, he is leading a very tough life while all his friends play and concentrate on studies. But I know that these hardships have made him strong."
Koti loves pulihara, a rice dish made with mixed vegetables which is served as part of the mid-day meal. Mid-day meal helps many families like Koti’s who can’t afford a nutritious meal. According to Devudamma, Koti’s health is better since he gets to eat a nutritious food at least once a day. Despite the tragedy of his life, Koti tries to be cheerful with his caring friends at school. The Akshaya Patra mid-day meal plays a vital role in nurturing children like Koti who have missed the care of parents, and yet lead a life hoping for a brighter future.
Mr. SS Rajamouli and Mr. Shobu Yarlagadda on a tour of our kitchen in Narsingi, Hyderabad on December 11
The prestigious National Award for Child Welfare was conferred upon Akshaya Patra by the Honourable President of India