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Spunk and sacrifice

- Awarded for excellence, courage and more

Sneha Mukherjee has a plastic sphere where her right would have been and minus power in her left eye but the only “favour” the 12-year-old takes in class is to sit in the front row.

Sneha underwent an eye surgery for removal of tumour when she was just 11 months old and had since had no vision in her right eye.

That has not impaired her spirit and Sneha, who has a ready response for any insensitive remark about her eye implant. “My friends would tell me ‘we can’t understand where you are looking’. I tell them to follow my left eye,” said the Class VII student of St. Joseph’s Convent in Chandernagore and winner of The Surrendra Paul Memorial Award for Courage at Peerless presents The Telegraph School Awards for Excellence 2014, in association with Parle-G and powered by Adamas University.

If Sneha has always been encouraged by mother Lopamudra not to take any favours, other parents have made sacrifices — big and small — for their children’s education.

Radharani Prasad has to work as a domestic help as her husband is confined to bed by paralysis but that didn’t stop her for admitting daughter Chandni to Gurukul Vidyamandir Higher Secondary School after she scored 75 per cent in ICSE. Chandni received The Telegraph Education Foundation Scholarship.

“The school did give us concession but despite that I had to pay about Rs 15,000 for her admission after taking loan. I haven’t been able to pay her monthly fee so far,” said Radharani, who shared The Abhirup Bhadra Memorial “Thank You Baba-Ma” Award with Balaka and Swarup Sur, parents of Swarnavo, a kindergarten student at Assembly of Angels Secondary School, Barrackpore.

Swarnavo had a hernia surgery when he was 10 months old and an eye surgery when he was three. “He is extremely regular in school and I do not have to give him any special attention,” said the proud mother.

It was for Subir and Swarnali Biswas (who received The Abhirup Bhadra Memorial “Thank You Baba-Ma” Award) that their daughter Saheli (who received The Telegraph Education Foundation Scholarship) could continue her studies.

“My father has an electric repair shop and at one point it was doubtful whether I could continue my studies but my father took a loan and cut down on other expenses,” said the student of Class XI.

The spunky Somnath Sadhukhan, who received The Faith in Astha Scholarship, studies geography honours at Surendranath College while his mother sells pens and stationery in and around Shyambazar.

Rudrangshu Mukherjee, the managing trustee of The Telegraph Education Foundation, had one thought on Saturday for the students. “When you become somebody eminent, somebody successful… just turn back and reflect on those who need to be educated, those who need your support… “Please grow with The Telegraph Education Foundation, the best is yet to be because the best is in your hands.”

Barry O’ Brien, the convener of The Telegraph School Awards for Excellence, shared how students and teachers have often told him how moved they are by the stories of courage and resilience.

“Don’t just be moved. Don’t just take a handkerchief out of your pocket and wipe your tears. Do something small, very small, it could be anything. Try to reach out to somebody,” was O’Brien’s advice,

Delhi Public School Megacity and Sunita Sen, the principal of Ballygunge Shiksha Sadan, did just that, responding on the spot to a request to fund a laptop for Partha Sarathi Samanta, the son of a guard who is studying MTech at the Indian Institute of Engineering Science and Technology. They chipped in with Rs 40,000 for the recipient of The Club Friday Scholarship.