The home for railway children gave Shankar Rao a new lease of live and the chance to learn
My name is Shankar Rao. I am 20 years old. I come from a small town called Srikakulam in Northeastern Andhra Pradesh. I also have a brother. Our mother died when I was five. I was twelve when my father died from an electric shock at work. My brother and I went to live with my uncle. From then on our life really deteriorated. My uncle did not like the idea of me going to school. He wanted me to work as a day labourer to earn money. This was very hard for me. I ran away from him, whilst my brother stayed behind.
In those days, I had no idea about my own future and I was very confused and frightened. This must have been the worst time of my life. I travelled through the country on several trains and begged everybody for food. Alternatively, I asked the passengers for some money to get by somehow. Some people told me that I should give up this life. However, I had no idea how to escape this situation.
Best graduate in Chirala
One morning, a resident of the wortundtat home for railway children boarded ‘my’ train. He saw me, told me about the home in the small town of Chirala and sent me there. I was 13 years old and more than 500 kilometres away from my home village. The staff in the home took great care to look after me even though I continued to live as a railway child. Then, after a lot of persuasion by the staff and supported by the grace of God, I decided to follow a different path.
Hener Babu, who worked at the home, was of particular help to me. He was my protector and steered my life into a new direction. He enrolled me at school, where teachers taught me what is good and what is bad. With their support, I was able to complete my school education reaching 560 of 600 possible points. This was the best result of all pupils in Chirala. Everybody praised me. Moreover, a college in Chirala offered me a place for another two years – without paying fees!
After graduating, I sat the entrance test of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT). (Editor’s note: about 5000,000 Indians each year sit this test to get one of 10,000 college place.), which I passed. Now, I have a place at IIT in Guwahati, Assam and am in my third year of studying electrical engineering.