Vikas – An aspiring mechanical engineer from Mysuru, is proficient in five languages!
One of the biggest lessons kids teach you, is to keep the zest for life alive, and not let one’s spirit be defeated, even in the face of tragedy. Today, we tell you the tale of one such bright, formidable beneficiary of Akshaya Patra – Vikas Mudi, a Std VII student, who wishes to be mechanical engineer.
In the slums of Nachanahalli Palya (NH Palya) in Mysuru, Karnataka lies Government Higher Primary School (NH Palya). The school comprises a tiny courtyard, flanked by the school building and its compound wall. Its students come from the lower rungs of society, most of them from families struggling to make ends meet. It is here that we met Vikas, a migrant from Ranchi, Jharkhand, who came to Mysuru a year and half ago. This feisty young lad, whose face always carries a big smile, has a gift for languages. He speaks English, Hindi, Bengali, Odia and Kannada. He picked up written and spoken Kannada in just six months. Even more admirably, he was the winner of a Kannada-language General Knowledge Quiz conducted by an NGO in his school!
When we asked the 13-year-old boy what his parents do, he replied, “My father is a railway mechanic and mother works in a garment factory as a tailor. My father came to Mysuru 15 years ago and our family shifted here a year and a half ago.” His ambition in life, inspired by his father, is to be mechanical engineer. He spoke animatedly about his parents and as the conversation progressed, we asked him when his parents return home from work. “My mother works morning and evening shifts, alternating every week. My father returns home once a week.” It was then that his teacher, Miss Lalitakshi, told us that actually, this young boy lost his father in a road accident last year. Like children his age, Vikas struggles to cope with the bitter realities of life.
After his father’s demise, Vikas’s mother was about to pull him out of school. His school teachers though, pooled in some monetary resources and convinced her to keep a bright child like himself in school. Akshaya Patra’s mid-day meals were a big factor in this decision. Not only do they help feed Vikas and his younger sister Barkha (studying in Std III in the same school) a nutritious lunch every school day, but the teachers also pack and send the surplus food home for his mother. The children’s elder brother, who is 16 years old, had to drop out of school for economic reasons in Std IX and works as a mechanic in Bangaluru. Vikas talks animatedly about the Foundation’s meals – “I love Akshaya Patra’s food! Rice and Sambar is my favourite dish served by them at school,” he says.
Apart from an obvious flair for languages, the young boy takes an avid interest in academics and is a good student. His teachers are particularly fond of him for this reason. “My favourite subjects are English, Kannada – both taught by Miss Manasa; Hindi, taught by Miss Padmashri and Science, taught by Miss Pramila,” he says with a smile, adding that he also enjoys playing cricket and football.
We hope Vikas fulfills his dream of becoming a mechanical engineer and wish that his face continues to be lit with a bright smile every day!
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