Bhawanipatna: Inspiring as it sounds, an 11-year-old boy of Paria village under this block in Kalahandi district works as a pani puri seller to help his family and save money for treatment of his 70-year-old ailing grandfather. The boy not only feeds his five-member family but also arranges the fees for his studies.
This is the story of Debanand Patel, a modern-day ‘Ekalavya’, as he’s famously known in the area. In a social context in which people neglect their elderly parents or send them to old-age homes, the life journey of Debanand is an inspiration to many.
Debanand hails from a poor family consisting of his parents, elderly grandfather and a younger brother. Although they belong to the BPL category, the family is deprived of such benefits from the government. They do not even have a ration card under the NFSA. The family had survived with whatever Debanand’s father earned by selling vegetables in the local market. Things took an ugly turn when his father was affected by some disease that crippled him for the rest of his life.
It has been five years since Debanand started financially supporting his family. He goes to school and starts work as soon as he returns home. In the meantime, his mother would have prepared the ‘pani puri’ for sale. Back home from school, Debanand will have his food and then moves from village to village with the ‘pani puri’ cart. Sales done, he would return home by 10 at night.
Debanand makes it a point to do his studies before he goes to bed. This has been his daily routine for the last five years. His family ekes out a living with whatever he earns this way. The family said Debanand has also to bear the medicine expenses of his father and grandfather. He also takes care of his brother’s studies.
Debanand has ambitions in life. He aims to become a police officer.
Several schemes launched by the government for the poor are out of the reach for Debanand and his family. His family’s plight is an instance of how governmental schemes meant for the poor do not really reach them, while these benefit the relatively well-off in the society and vested interests including corrupt government officials and peoples’ representatives. PNN