There’s clearly more to the Indian tea vendor than meets the eye. It's widely believed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who had a humble beginning, used to sell tea in his youth. This year, one tea seller became a web developer. Another from Kochi has travelled the world over with his wife, proving that if you really have the will, there’s nothing that can stop you from doing something you really want.
Another tea seller, Cuttack resident Prakash Rao, plays the dual role of a chai wallah and a teacher. Videographer Raj Sampad discovered Rao through a post on Facebook, and decided to probe further.
What he discovered left him speechless: for the last 14 years, the tea seller had been investing 50 per cent of his earnings every day to fund a school he had started for slum children.
Rao educates approximately 70 children from class 1 to 3, following which he tries to register them in government schools (over 150 students have been enrolled under his care). In the video, he shares his own inspiring story -- he was a bright student who was forced to quit studies, burdened by financial constraints. The eldest in a family of four, Rao started assisting at his father’s teashop at the age of seven and would often face flak for studying in what little spare time he had.
“I was spellbound after listening to his story,” Sampad told HuffPost India. “He is one of the most selfless persons I have come across till now.”
Rao, who suffered temporary paralysis as a child due to a vitamin deficiency, ensures his students don’t suffer. On noticing that several of his students were suffering from nutrition deficiency, he even started supplying milk and biscuits in the morning from his chai shop. “That’s all I can do,” he says.
He is also a regular blood donor, and has donated blood 205 times.
A kind stranger who donated blood had once saved Rao’s life. “I spent six months in the hospital (SCB Medical College) with free care, and food which gave me a new lease on life,” he remembers. Since 1976, Rao has been donating blood regularly, along with his wife. “The society has given us so much, what have we given back,” asks the proud father of two daughters who continues to work 12-14 hours a day. He also, with the help of the Odisha Government that recognised his efforts this year, has started running a centre in the same hospital where he helps provide milk, ice cubes and blood.
“He taught me a very good lesson – money is not needed to do something that you love, you should have the will and passion to do it,” said Sampad. “And that’s what I’ll always remember about him.”