Sunshine Story: 30 Ratnagiri judges take disadvantaged kids under wing

Jun 23, 2017, 10:18 IST | Chaitraly Deshmukh

Severely visually disabled Shubham Lad and domestic help Meenal Prakash Hatankar have found that help can come from the unlikeliest of places
Severely visually disabled Shubham Lad and domestic help Meenal Prakash Hatankar have found that help can come from the unlikeliest of places

This Justice League is giving us serious philanthropic goals. Thirty judges from Rajapur and Khed in Ratnagiri district have taken two disadvantaged students who aced the SSC examinations this year under their wings and have already raised Rs 2 lakh to fund their education. They have even offered to pay for the medical treatment of one of the beneficiaries who suffers from 75 per cent blindness.

An aid of Rs 1 lakh each was handed over on Tuesday to Meenal Prakash Hatankar (17) from Goval village in Rajapur, who secured 84 per cent in the Std X examination, and Shubham Lad (16) of Kurwal Jawali village in Ratnagiri, who scored 80 per cent. Hatankar hails from a family of ragpickers, while Lad is 75 per cent blind.

The prompt
Moved by the struggles of the SSC toppers he read after announcement of the state board examination results, Ratnagiri principal district judge Shivkumar Dige set the ball rolling on the charity plan. "He had a talk with us during lunch one day. We were worried that the children's hardships might come in way of their dreams," said one of the do-gooders.

The group of judges then decided to raise R1 lakh for each student. "We will also fund Lad's medical expenses if his blindness can be even partially cured," said the judge on the condition of anonymity. "We will meet all of their educational needs."

Hatankar had dreamt of becoming a doctor but her family's finances were a rude awakening. She then decided to scale back her ambition and become a nurse, instead. The judges don't want her to make any compromise and are egging her on to settle for nothing less than her dream job.

Aiming high
Overwhelmed by the generosity, Hatankar said she used to work as a domestic help even as she pursued her academics. "For the last three generations, my family has been working as ragpickers. For the sake of my education, my elder brother quit school and began to work. I didn't want to be a burden on my family. So, I decided to chip in by working as a domestic help. That took care of my schools fees and books."

Offering a sobering reality, Lad said for too long, he has been conscious of the limited educational and job opportunities people with disabilities have. "If had total vision in at least one eye, I would have taken up an engineering course. The judges have assured me that they help me with my medical expenses. Their charitable act has encouraged to become a lawyer."

A "grateful" Prakash, Hatankar's father, was beaming with pride. "Our daughter had made us proud. We are unlettered, but we are sure she will break the chain of destituteness."

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