Stories of Inspiration: Meenaketan Kandori
Here is an inspirational story of Meenaketan, one of our Mission Saksham students, who went through many hardships and struggles to get where he is presently.

Mr. Meenaketan Kandori hails from a remote village of Rayagada called Badakhilapadar. His family belongs to one of India's Scheduled Tribes, which is economically backward and socially limited. His father passed away when he was just 6 months old and his mother took care of his upbringing solely. Their family members turned their back on Meenaketan and his mother. His mother used to toil day and night on the two acres of land that his father had left behind. Meenaketan studied in a Government School from 1st to 3rd standard and later he was shifted to SSD Bank High School (Odiya medium), which is at a distance of over 40 km from his home. He had to stay in a hostel, where his lodging and food was taken care of. It was not easy for him as a child to stay away from his mother, as she was the only person he called "family". As time passed, he understood the gravity of the situation and adjusted to this arrangement.

Struggles to receive education

With all these hardships, Meenaketan completed his schooling till the 10th standard. During this time, a school teacher from Balasore promised him that he would take him under his wing and help Meenaketan with his further studies. It was all Meenaketan ever wanted, to study further and he saw it coming. Happiness knew no bounds and he went to his teacher’s house. The first few days were fine and he helped with some household work for the family, but as days passed, he was compelled to do all the jobs in his teacher’s home, including cleaning rooms, washing clothes, cooking food, washing dishes, etc. Meenaketan had no courage to ask for what he was promised, so he kept on waiting. After three months, Meenaketan decided to go back home.

Due to the economic conditions at home and this deceit by his teacher, he could not go for higher studies. He decided to opt for a computer course at a centre where he could work as a helper and he would not have to pay anything for the course. He was happy with this arrangement, as all he cared was for learning. He was given a small room in the same centre. During that one-year period, his day used to start at 6 am, where he had to clean the floor, clean all the computers and other equipment. For his service, he was given the privilege to learn along with other students who used to come during the day.

After a year of stay at the centre, Meenaketan returned home and took admission at SSD Higher Secondary School, Kailashpur in 2011. It was a 15 km walk and another 10 km drive from home, so he was given a hostel to stay. However, the hostel did not provide free food and he did not have sufficient money to pay for it. He had countless nights where he went to bed on an empty stomach. His mother then requested their relatives residing nearby to provide for meals and they readily agreed to help. He is grateful that his relatives helped him for nearly two years with food and he completed his higher education in 2013.

After completing his higher education, Meenaketan enrolled for Bachelor of Science at the Rayagada Autonomous College. Unfortunately, he had to drop-out after four months of college, as he had no money to pay for college. Returning home after dropping-out college was very painful, yet he did not lose hope. He stayed home and started working on the farm. Contractors used to call him for manual labour work and he was paid on a daily basis. There were days when both his mother and he had to go to work. He did not want his mother to be working at her age and he tried his best to take all the responsibilities on his own. They were not earning much, but they were happy with what they had. Alas, both mother and son were together.

A ray of hope shines through

It was February 2018, when he took one of his relatives to LV Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI), Rayagada, for an eye examination. One of his family relatives was working there on a project. The relative informed him about a Vision Technician course provided by LVPEI in unison with Mission for Vision's Mission Saksham programme that supports youth from marginalised backgrounds. The relative even introduced Meenaketan to the admin of that centre and he was briefed about the course and the scope that he will have in the future. Meenaketan was looking for something better that could happen to his mother and himself, which occurred as one of the biggest surprises. Later that year, in July, Meenaketan appeared for the entrance examination, and he joined the course on 6th August 2018.

He feels more than blessed to be a part of one of India's premier institutes. This journey at LVPEI has been really joyful for Meenaketan and the learning process has been life-changing for him. He never imagined that he could get such a wonderful opportunity for growth and education. Besides academics, this course has inculcated soft skills, personality development and ethical standards.

Here are Meenaketan’s words of gratitude for all that have supported him with this course:

“I have many people to thank for providing me with this opportunity to explore myself and do something for my family. At first, my mother and the almighty God for giving hope. Thank you to Mr. Binod, who introduced me to the admin at LVPEI; the entire LVPEI team, my friends who helped me in my difficult times and shared some good memories, and a huge thanks to my mentors. Most importantly, I am grateful to Mission for Vision and Wen Giving Foundation for its education programme without which I would have been in my place doing the same labour work with my future at stake."

He further added, "Today, I see myself at a position where I feel proud and my mother is very happy. I am so glad to know that I would now be able to change my future and not let my future generation suffer what I went through.”