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Netizens Want Padma Shri For This 69-YO Paralysed Man From Kerala. Here’s Why

Netizens Want Padma Shri For This 69-YO Paralysed Man From Kerala. Here’s Why

“How does one show love for one’s country? Maybe this is how . . . love made visible in action, not only in words or social media.” wrote a moved Randeep Hooda.

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NS Rajappan from Manianikkara, Kottayam has been collecting discarded plastic waste from the Vembanad Lake for the past 5 years. Although he doesn’t own a boat, he hires a tiny one every day and sets out early in the morning to collect plastic bottles dumped in the waters.

He couldn’t bear to see the plastic bottles being thrown into the lake around which he grew up. He voluntarily took up the job of collecting these bottles and sold them to a local agency that collects plastic.

Rajappan was stricken with polio when he was just five years old and has been paralysed ever since.

“Since I couldn’t move my legs, I’ve never had the chance to take up a daily wage job, so I’ve been doing jobs like these to make a living. One kilogram of plastic earns me Rs.12, so even if I collect a whole boat of plastic bottles, it’s not much. But I still do it because the least I’m doing is saving the lake and to me, that’s all that really matters,” he explains.

Eking Out a Living Via the Vembanad Lake

Rajappan’s home.

Rajappan has been living alone in a small house in the Manianikkara village all his life. His sister Vilasini and her family who live across his home have been his sole support throughout his life.

“Rajappan never wants to burden anyone in the family with his problems, which is why he decided to live alone. I prepare food for him every day, but besides that, he has been managing everything on his own,” explains Rajappan’s sister Vilasini.

During the 2018 Kerala floods, Rajappan’s house faced a lot of damage and was completely flooded.

“Even then, Rajappan didn’t ask for help and managed to live in a boat for a few weeks. Although the basic roofing of his house was fixed, the house is still in a very poor condition,” Vilasini adds.

Over the past few months, Rajappan saw the amount of plastic waste decreasing in the lake due to the number of tourists going down. “Even though this means that I might not be able to make enough money, I’m just glad that the lake will stay clean,” says Rajappan


If you wish to help Rajappan, you can donate to the account number provided below:

Rajappan.N.S
Account No: 17760100068162
IFSC code: FDRL0001776
Federal Bank Kumarakom

Or write to us at editorial@thebetterindia.com if you would like to support his cause.


The Random Click that Went Viral

The picture clicked by Nandu that went viral.

Although Rajappan has been doing this work voluntarily for almost half a decade, his work was recently brought to light through a picture taken by Kottayam based photographer, Nandu KS, which went viral.

Nandu had been working in Abu Dhabi as an electrical engineer and had just returned to Kerala on 1 March to pursue photography in the state. But since the lockdown came into being, it was very difficult to freelance.

“So when things relaxed a bit, my friend and I decided to go visit the Vembanad lake and click a few pictures to add to my portfolio. That’s when I came across Rajappan chettan (Malayalam for older brother) rowing in his tiny boat,” Nandu explains.

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“I called out to him from over the bridge and when he turned back, I captured his picture. This picture has now reached over 1,40,000 people through my personal Facebook account,” he adds.

Nandu went on to enquire about Rajappan and on hearing his story, decided to post it on his Facebook page.

Nandu K.S. and Rajappan.

“The video blew up way more than I had ever imagined. In just a span of one week, I was getting calls from all over India. I was truly overwhelmed and was extremely happy that his story was being heard,” Nandu explains.

Several netizens have applauded Rajappan’s efforts to keep the lake clean despite his circumstances but his struggles continue.

“Rajappan chettan deserves all the goodness in the world for the work he has been doing over the years. I hope we can all come together and help build a new home for him and support him financially, especially at a crucial time like this,” Nandu concludes.

If you wish to help Rajappan, you can donate to the account number provided below:

Rajappan.N.S
Account No: 17760100068162
IFSC code: FDRL0001776
Federal Bank Kumarakom

Or write to us at editorial@thebetterindia.com if you would like to support his cause.

Picture Source: Nandu K S

(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)

 

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