Crawl over for 'little giant' - Help for differently abled boy at Telegraph School Awards

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By CHANDREYEE CHATTERJEE
  • Published 29.08.10
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Calcutta, Aug. 28: He crawled onto the stage to receive his scholarship, and was promised a set of wheels to take him to school.

Siddikulla Molla, the recipient of the Santosh Chandra Memorial Scholarship at the 14th edition of The Telegraph School Awards for Excellence 2010, will not have to drag himself on his knees to school for five kilometres from his home in Muksinpur, Burdwan, any more.

The Class XI student found a ray of hope lighting up his future when a member of the audience, Gurusaday Barik, was moved enough to promise a hand-driven wheelchair to Siddikulla.

“I am grateful. This will mean that I can go to school without my father’s help. I may even be able to go to college,” the student said.

Barry ’Brien, the convener of the annual awards organised by The Telegraph Education Foundation, compared the auditorium with Brobdingnag, the land of giants visited by Gulliver, but here “little giants” have been taking the stage every year.

In Jonathan Swift’s story, the people of Brobdingnag are as tall as a church steeple with strides that stretch up to 10 yards. Under the dome of the Science City auditorium on Saturday, the children who were honoured did not look large enough. But their indomitable spirit towered over everything else.

Some adults have shown exemplary courage too, standing by the children against all odds.

On the list of special guests was Santosh Kumar Das, a retired headmaster who has built schools and colleges in his village Gangadharpur. He was inducted into The Telegraph Hall of Fame.

“I am honoured. But more than the recognition, I want you all to stand by me for I have work left to be done,” Das said.

Akash Chakraborty, a child with cerebral palsy, and his parents Asish and Bahni Chakraborty, epitomised the theme of the awards, presented by Techno India Group: understanding the child and giving him freedom.

Asish and Bahni not only understood their son’s need to pursue his education but also took every possible step to help him. They were awarded the Abhirup Bhadra Memorial “Thank You Baba Ma” certificate of honour.

Jeyapriya Gopal, the 39-year-old widow of Dr K. Krishnagopal, had decided to donate her husband’s organs after he was injured in an accident in December 2009 and was pronounced brain dead. She donated her husband’s heart and kidneys and saved three lives.

Jeyapriya was called on stage to give away the Surrendra Paul Memorial Award for Courage to some of the “little giants” — from 18-year-old Tousif Alam, who scored 73 per cent in Madhyamik despite suffering from severe kidney and allergy problems that needed regular medical attention, to Sujit Shaw, who comes from an impoverished family of eight, and who, despite his physical disability and the need to do odd jobs, passed his Class XII examinations with a score of 76 per cent.

Aishika Das, a Class V student of K.E. Carmel School, tried hard to hold her tears back as she stood in the spotlight. She had lost her mother in an accident on way to a holiday in September 2009. But her mother had wanted her to do well in studies — and Aishika scored 92 per cent in her Class IV finals.

Don Bosco School, Liluah, and National Gems Higher Secondary School were joint winners of The Telegraph School of the Year award for their commitment to all-round excellence.

Gurusaday Barik, a first-time visitor to the awards, was touched enough by Siddikulla’s struggle to make a spontaneous gesture of generosity. Others had made unstinting contributions before.

This year, Mahadevi Birla Girls’ Higher Secondary School contributed Rs 2 lakh to the foundation, the sum put together by students and teachers who went from house to house asking for contributions.

Arunima Dasgupta, former headmistress of Tiljala Balika Vidyalaya, donated Rs 1.7 lakh — the entire amount she had received as gratuity.

As the ceremony drew to a close, loud cheers filled the auditorium and the message of the awards was clear: discover the child, watch over him, stand by him, set him free.