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26 May 2019, Edition - 1412, Sunday

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Coimbatore

Abdul Kalam awardee: “My heart melts when they call me GeetuMa”

Indrani Thakurata

Geetha Sridhar is a teacher, mother,social worker and a Masterchef finalist,Season-4. She wears all these hats with elan. But what distinguishes her from the rest is the extra ordinary calling of this ordinary woman. She casually quips that she would like to be an elephant who is useful even after his death. “I would like to bring a smile on everyone’s face. I want to touch as many lives as possible. Even after I am gone from this world, my work should carry on.” A promise from her ailing father who was battling 4th stage cancer charted the rest of her journey.” I used to love spending weekends with my father. I was a regular Chennai girl whose life changed after my father was diagnosed with 4th stage cancer suddenly. But before he passed away he told me, ‘make sure you take all of my property and put it to good use.’ ”

After losing her father to the dreaded disease, she was wanting to do something for cancer patients. And it was a chance meeting with a doctor from Pune that gave her the opportunity to do what she wanted to. “After marriage, I shifted to Mumbai. It was there that I met a doctor who spoke about this hospital in Pune where orphaned children suffering from various stages of cancer were housed, but weren’t receiving the best of treatment due to lack of resources. This was my calling and since then I have 28 children who call me Geetha Ma.” She adds,” I love my kids. Though am not allowed to visit them everyday, on Sundays I cook and feed them.”

She teaches and counsels street & autistic children & talks to their parents too. She attends the chemo sessions of each and every one of these children,and supports them with her physical presence. “I never want them to feel alone in the hospital. They have so much of love to give,” she asserts.

She recounts this incident where this small girl who wanted to pursue education wasn’t allowed to by her parents due to lack of funds cried for help in front of her. “I met her parents, convinced them and finally they agreed on one condition that I should take care of her education. So I spoke to my husband and like always he was supportive and today, that very girl has done her engineering. I feel so proud of that one decision.” She is a pinkathon ambassador, a volunteer who works with disabled, autistic and blind children. “I try my best to help wherever I can. This wouldn’t have been possible without a supportive family. I am thankful for that. I missed my father when I received awards, especially Abdul Kalam award. I know he would have been really happy. It isn’t always about the big things, but even in the smallest of ways,you can touch lives,” she concludes.

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