by Jem King, HEAL Head of Communications
One young student has become something of a celebrity at Paradise Village lately… ninth-grader Jyothi is the talk of the school after being selected for state-level sports academy training in the popular Indian sport of kho-kho.
Jyothi missed most of the recent HEAL Silver Jubilee celebrations at Paradise Village after spending a few days rubbing shoulders with the cream of the Andhra Pradesh sporting crop.
It was quite an eye-opening experience for the teenage athlete, with standards at the training camp obviously higher than anything she had encountered before.
Jyothi returned with a new sports bag, a trophy, certificate and some prize money after her team claimed runners-up spot at the academy try-out.
And HEAL founder-chairman Dr Satya Prasad Koneru was quick to lavish praise on the promising teenager as he called her up onto the stage to be honoured in front of her admiring classmates by HEAL Day chief guest Mr Moncho Ferrer.
Her picture is also posted up around the school and she has even featured in one or two newspaper reports in the Telugu Press.
Such achievement as Jyothi’s gives immense satisfaction to all HEAL staff and volunteers as it serves to demonstrate how children from severely disadvantaged backgrounds can go on to make their mark in life if given the right start.
Jyothi arrived at HEAL in distressing circumstances, as she said in a recent newspaper report: “I did not know my father at all. When my mother died in a traffic accident, I was all alone with no place to call home. Fortunately, some relatives joined me at HEAL. This is not something I could have ever dreamed of. It is now my home, family and future.
“I am so lucky and happy. I have not missed my parents since I came here, though I remember my mother. All this fortune is only possible because of Doctor Sir.”
But Jyothi is not letting her successes go to her head and remains determined to press on with her studies – even at the expense of sporting success.
And whatever path she decides to take, she knows that her HEAL family will be behind her all the way!