Mancherial: Professional dance teacher Pendem Ashok Rao collapsed seven years ago when his only teenage son lost his life due to botched treatment by a doctor. His dreams were shattered. But, he converted this tragedy into bliss for visually-impaired children. He established Sai School for the Blind, which is a school-cum-hostel.
At present, he is providing shelter to around 25 blind children who belong to various parts of erstwhile Adilabad district.
“My 18-year-old son, Sai was then preparing to join National Defence Academy in Visakhapatnam. Suddenly, he fell ill with fever and that was when one of the local doctors gave him an injection. His condition gradually worsened instead of showing any improvement. He breathed his last while undergoing treatment at a private hospital in Hyderabad. In memory of him, I established this school in 2010. I could overcome the grief by operating this home as I am always surrounded by children,” he said Ashok.
Besides providing shelter and food, inmates of the institution are taught yoga, abacus and music. Some of them are also good singers. A few are proving their mettle in dancing and yoga too whereas one of the boys is a mimicry artiste. They display their skills at cultural programmes in schools and other educational institutions in the town.
In order to impart fine arts, Ashok deployed five trained teachers including his wife Padma and four ayahs for taking care of the children. “So far, over 100 children passed out from the school. Some of them appeared for standard X examinations. I can accommodate 50 more inmates if government allots land for running the institution as I am undergoing several challenges in rented buildings,” he added.
The founder of this institution claimed that he was operating the school with the help of funds generated through donations by good samaritans and financial assistance extended by some philanthropists of the town. Also, he spends a part of the income earned by teaching dance to students in order to purchase groceries and meet various needs, he explained.
Hailing from Warangal city, Ashok had migrated to Mancherial town in search of livelihood 35 years ago. He teaches classical and folk dance to enthusiastic youths. His disciples are presenting dance shows in cultural programmes and entertainment channels.