Kothagudem: The smile on the innocent faces of siblings, Bhukya Mounika and Naveen, hides the many pains and losses they suffered in their lives.
Once beggars and then orphaned, these children have displayed the powerful combo of grit and grace to rise against all odds. They have now cleared their SSC examinations with flying colours and attribute their success to the care shown by Mandapalli Uma, a social worker.
Despite their shortcomings, the siblings are bright in studies. Mounika and Naveen have scored 6.8 GPA and 7.7 GPA in SSC. Naveen, who is younger, is also blessed with a skill to compose lyrics, sing and paint, a happy Uma told Telangana Today.
“Before they came to me, these kids used to beg for alms at Kothagudem bus stand. Whatever money they got, they spent it on treatment of their arrack-addicted, ailing mother and to feed themselves. Their father was killed in an accident,” Uma said.
In 2005, their mother passed away. A few scribes — Chiranjivi, Ramakrishna and Rama Rao — moved by the hapless plight of the children, took them to DBR Old Age Home-cum-Orphanage run by Uma. Uma performed the last rites of the mother and took the children into her care.
“It took a lot of time to make them healthy. By birth, they were affected by stunted growth and deformed limbs. I faced resistance from parents when I admitted them in a playschool at Vidyanagar, then I took them to an Angawadi,” Uma said.
She said due to a few politicians and her relatives, her old age home was bulldozed in 2011.
After running the home from a rented premises for some time, she closed it and shifted the children, then in Class VIII, to Amma Saranayalam at the behest of the Child Welfare Committee. During the holidays, the children used to visit Uma. “It was possible only because of the support of my family, especially my children,” Uma said.
Mounika and Naveen say Uma is their true mother who gave them a life to feel happy about.
When asked about their future plans, Naveen said he wants to become a District Collector and Mounika a teacher. Uma is now searching for an apt junior college to get them admitted.