In November last year, Yelavarthi Siva Kumar, 15, then a school dropout, was earning Rs 50 per day loading bales of cotton on to trucks at a cotton mill in Guntur, 350 km south-east of Hyderabad. Then, his luck turned.
On Wednesday, Kumar received his Andhra Pradesh Senior Secondary Certificate (SSC), the state’s Class 10-leaving board examination, mark sheet. He had secured 87.5 per cent, the highest in Guntur district.
Kumar’s is now dreaming big — of continuing his studies in a high school and later, to become a chartered accountant. But only six months ago, he was living through a nightmare.
During a routine inspection of a cotton mill on November 2, 2008, MV Shiv Kumar Reddy, 40, the district’s inspector of factories, found an emaciated Kumar loading bales, wearing a school uniform.
He summoned the boy and asked what he was doing in a factory in a school uniform.
Kumar broke down in tears while narrating his tale — he wanted to study but his family was too poor to even pay the Rs 50 per month fee charged by the local zilla parishad-run government school.
His mother was bed-ridden while his father, a driver in a private company, spent all his small salary on alcohol. And his elder brother had left home three years ago never to return. So, he had dropped out of school at the end of Class 9 in March last year in order to support his family.
Reddy gave him Rs 100 and ordered him to leave the factory immediately. But Kumar, accompanied by his father, turned up at his house the next day.
“He wanted my help to continue his studies. I could see the zeal in his eyes, so I arranged clothes and books for him and persuaded the school authorities to take him back in Class 10,” Reddy told HT.
It needed a Herculean effort. Kumar had to make up for the eight months he had lost out on. He even skipped meals on some days but made sure he attended school everyday. “I wanted to live up to the faith he (Reddy) had in me,” he said.
Now, he is once again confronted by that old problem — money. He now wants to enter high school, but does not have the money to buy books and enter a good institution. His CA dreams, which he hopes to pursue after high school, look very attainable one moment, and distant the next.
But displaying the same never-say-die attitude that has got him so far, he has approached Guntur District Collector Jayesh Ranjan for help. Reddy, meanwhile, is also trying to rope in some local businessmen to help the boy.
Kumar isn’t the first poor boy Reddy has helped.
“This is a very happy moment for me. Kumar is the third boy I have helped break out of the tyranny of poverty. K Shiv Prasad, whom I rescued from a seeds factory in Kurnool, has completed his MBBS and is training as a house surgeon Kurnool Medical College. while another boy, G Janardhan, is pursuing an engineering degree at the Mittapally Engineering College,Guntur. Janardhan`s parents died a few years ago from AIDS,” Reddy said.
How you can help
If you want to help Yelavarthi Siva Kumar, please contact MV Shiv Kumar Reddy at 09440878658