BHUBANESWAR: He is not an ordinary chai-wallah. He is an institution for slum children, an inspiration for all.
Cuttack-based tea vendor D Prakash Rao has once again hit the headlines after Prime Minister Narendra Modi praised him and his activities in the monthly radio programme Mann Ki Baat on Sunday.
A tea vendor for the past five decades, he has given up everything in order to adopt and realise the dreams of others.
He runs a primary school 'Asha Ashvaasan' for slum children and spends 50 per cent of his income to bring them to mainstream.
Even at 61, Rao continues to give meaning to the life of many street urchins and slum children left uncared for by offering them free education.
"I congratulate D Prakash Rao for his hard work, his persistence and for providing a new direction to the lives of those poor children attending his school," Modi said.
The Prime Minister said there are some people who try to bring about a change through their hard work and dedication and make it a reality. Such is the story of Rao.
The lives of more than 70 children are being illuminated through education due to his efforts. He ensures education, health and meals for all the children coming to his school.
"He has banished the darkness from the lives of the slum children. Who amongst us does not know the Vedic shloka - Tamso Ma Jyotirgamaya! However, it has been put into practice by Rao. His life is an inspiration to us, our society and the whole country," Modi said.
Rao had to endure the pangs of poverty and premature responsibility while growing up. He has been managing his father’s tea stall, the only means of income, since he was seven-year-old. A serial blood donor, he demonstrates the will power than can transform the world.
He has been donating blood since 1976 after he came to know that someone had donated
one unit of blood to save his life when he was undergoing treatment at SCB Medical College and Hospital for lower torso paralysis. He is now a record holder for donating blood highest number of times in Asia.
The Prime Minister met Rao and 15 children of his school on Saturday immediately after his arrival in Cuttack where he addressed a rally organised to celebrate fourth year of the NDA-II Government at
A delighted Rao said he had no idea about the meeting with the PM. "I received a call from the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) on May 25 and informed about the meeting. The PMO also gave the list of names of the 15 students with an instruction that the PM wants meet them too," Rao told the 'The New Indian Express'.
The meeting went on for about 18 minutes in a tent in between the helipad and the meeting venue. One of the student B Jyoti (11), a Class V student, invited the PM to visit the school. "I am a good cook. Please come to my school to taste my food," Jyoti appealed the PM.
Earlier, the Prime Minister had praised Jamunamani Singh, an ASHA worker of Balasore district, for her untiring fight against fatal Malaria in her locality and saving the lives of poor.