The ability to overcome a disability
He sits in a corner looking at an open book full of words. He struggles to recite the words only to be corrected by the teacher about a misspelled word. His voice is high-pitched as he pronounces his words. Nagraj is a 14-year-old Akshaya Patra beneficiary in 8th standard who has autism.
His father Malleswar works as a tractor driver in the fields and mother Narasimha works as a domestic help. His brother Shekar passed his 10th standard and started working to make ends meet. Being the elder one, Shekar has vouched to end his family’s problems by working and supporting his family and brother.
Nagraj finds it difficult to talk and express things clearly. Sent to a special school to address his learning difficulties, he was assisted with his reading and writing skills. While he showed progress with his learning at the special school, he was moved to the Zilla Parishad School in BHEL area, Patancheru. "He has now been here with us for three years as a day scholar. We are doing our best to help him with his studies and he has improved significantly," says Syed Sabeer, assistant teacher at the school.
Nagraj fondly recalls Sunny, his best friend at the special school. "Both of us had fun together playing," says an ecstatic Nagraj, remembering his old friend. When asked what he likes about the Akshaya Patra meal, he shouts, "Papu (Dal in Telugu)" with an expression of contentment. Due to his condition, he has been placed in a lower class to help him grasp the subjects steadily.
Nagraj’s mother Narasimha doesn’t complain about her son but speaks about the deep reverence she has for her boy. She reveals that his loveable character is what keeps her from being unhappy as she wipes tears from her eyes. "We found out about this disability when he was seven years old. We realised that he had a problem while talking and remembering. I don’t regret anything now and I Iove him a lot," added Narasimha.
Nagraj’s change from the special school to the Government school clearly indicates a sign of progress. His improvement at school displays his will to overcome challenges. Nagraj stands as an inspiration to all.
The Akshaya Patra Foundation has been supporting relief efforts in flood-hit Gorakhpur city and its neighbouring towns and villages. Kitchen on Wheels, a customised vehicle designed by Akshaya Patra to support flood relief efforts, is stationed at
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