maithri educational & charitable trust


History

When Rajaram Shreedhar was 18 months of age, he suffered a polio attack, which left his left hand and both his legs paralyzed. His parents tried every remedy to cure him and provided all the best possible treatment available in those days. They had always hoped, prayed and believed that someday Shreedhar would walk.

He went to school until the age of 8 years. His father would often carry him there, from home. Sometimes the classes were held on the top floor, but there was no one to carry him up. He missed several classes. Those days, there was less awareness about the needs of the differently-abled and almost all schools lacked facilities to help such students. Unsurprisingly, Shreedhar had to quit school.

However, he continued to learn and through a very unlikely source - the radio. The radio helped him to 'travel' while staying in one place. The BBC and Deutsche Welle [Voice of Germany] were his early windows to the world.

Soon, Shreedhar took to monitoring the various overseas radio stations which needed technical feedback from the listeners to assess the broadcast in the targeted areas. This was his "window" to the outside world. Through this, he learnt to understand and speak English. He also learnt a little bit of Spanish, German and Hindi. He says, "The pain and frustrations I felt because of my condition, being unable to attend school, gradually subsided. It was quite tough, but I learnt to accept my life".

The first time he traveled by train to Mumbai was when he was 34. His elder sister, who was living in Mumbai, was determined to take him home with her. His brother-in-law showed him places in and around Mumbai. He did not even have a wheelchair then and people had to carry him. He had never ventured out of home much very little in fact, apart from few family functions. He couldn't strike a conversation with people whenever he went to gatherings. But, things have changed over the years.

Today, as part of his work at Maithri, he attends seminars, get-togethers, functions and events where, he speaks to large groups of people without hesitations rather, with ease and comfort and sometimes even delivers ex-tempore speeches. Some years ago, his family went to the Himalayas on a pilgrimage to Rishikesh and Badrinath. By then he had a wheelchair, a gift from his cousins from the United States. He says "The trip was wonderful. Due to a landslide, our van could not travel further ahead in the narrow, winding roads. Parking the vans by the river Ganges, we experienced the surreal beauty of nature. Watching the flow of the mighty Ganges was an unforgettable experience."

Shreedhar also stumbled on another gift: he came to learn Astrology through his own efforts, and soon people started flocking to his door with their fears, hopes and dreams. He not only counseled them about their future, but also inspired them to donate to his cause.

This cause that he made his own literally met him on the streets. Whenever he went out on his wheelchair pushed by a volunteer in the streets, he would come across children loitering around in groups. He says "One day I asked one of them why was he wasting his time?" They replied "We are the drop-outs from the school. No money to buy books, notebooks or pay school fees," Shreedhar thought what (school education) was denied to him should not happen to these children also. That was when he started in a small way by helping these children by paying fees, buying school books and notebooks. This was also how he came to found Maithri.

Soon, these modest efforts at educational support started to take an organizational shape. With some of his friends contributing funds, they were able to meet the needs of a few students for an entire year. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Shreedhar is ably supported by his family; they have opened their doors to diverse people and have allowed for these lives to trespass on theirs with generous good sense.




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