Where He Belongs

Siddaraju, left, with a friend.

If you asked anyone at the Institute of Speech and Hearing in India, “Who is the most hardworking person among you?”, they would take you to a cheerful young lad who goes by the name of Siddaraju.

You will see the evidence of his hard work when you take a walk around the hostel building and the gardens of every type including tomatoes, chilis, eggplants and guavas where each student takes charge of their own garden. But it is Siddaraju who can be found in every garden lending his skills and expertise and also, taking care of the biggest garden, the banana plantation which he built from scratch. To Siddaraju, toil comes with a smile.

Siddaraju did not have an easy childhood. His mother left the family four years ago, and since then, his father remarried and had two sons. His father works as a daily wage laborer and lives in an airless one-room house with a mat for a bed and a few chairs for the guests. When he was a young boy, Siddaraju attended the government school in his village but he could not understand anything and often came home in tears feeling very out of place. But things changed when one day, Siddaraju’s father found out about the School for Speech and Hearing.

Siddaraju finally found education that he could understand, friends who he could share his fears and doubts with and the atmosphere of a family.

He found a place where he belonged.

“I am happy he is somewhere he is understood, that there are people doing something for him that we cannot and that they are providing a home for this thoughts and dreams,” says his father.

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