Madhusudan Dhekne,a polio and residual paralysis survivor who turned 75 on October 8,continues to browse through newspapers to look for physically challenged people he can reach out to
Madhusudan Dhekne,a resident of Nivara Old Age Home,Navi Peth,celebrated his 75th birthday on Saturday by doing what he loves the most reading a newspaper. Visit him and he graciously offers you a seat. A blue packet at the end of the bed catches your attention. He opens the packet and lays its contents out – envelopes and post cards of gratitude and happiness from those whose lives he has touched. A polio and residual paralysis survivor,Dhekne’s aim in life is simple – to aid the physically challenged in getting better economic opportunities. And he works towards this aim by looking for beneficiaries from the newspapers.
After his retirement in 1985,from the Sainya Visfot Karyalaya,Khadki,Dhekne collected all his savings and transferred them into a bank. The interest from the amount deposited was then given to students who were physically challenged and who had great potential in them. “I would read about how some students were trying to complete their education despite all odds,and so I started tracing them. It has been extremely gratifying to do this.”
Among the many individuals that Dhekne found inspiring are two girls residing in Khadki,to whom he presented tailoring machines; Vidya Ravat,a brilliant individual who in spite of her physical handicap excelled in handling computers; and a Std X student who did not have wrists but was still writing the exam. He read about all of them in newspapers and then reached out to them. Dhekne has also been in constant touch with the Queen Mary’s Technical Institute for Disabled Soldiers. “The soldiers at the institute are trained in various vocational trades so as to help them achieve financial independence. But many of them are still in very delicate situations. I think they need to be empowered,” Dhekne says. Presently,Dhekne gives his the interest amount on his bank deposit to the Student’s Welfare Association,Fergusson College Road,which presents it to physically challenged students. “I still try to search for beneficiaries but at times it becomes hard so I have given it to this association. They keep me informed on who is being helped.”
After working for 30 years at the Sainya Visfot Karyalaya,Khadki,Dhekne felt that he needed to aid the disabled as there was little that offered them a very promising future. “If a person achieves something and I read it in the newspaper,I write to them and give them my best wishes. It’s my way of telling them that their efforts are appreciated,” he says. His life is full of interesting stories. Once,after reading an article on how an insurance firm wasn’t cooperating with a client,he sent a cut-out of the article to the chairman of the firm. The chairman immediately contacted the Pune office of his firm and resolved the problem. Dhekne only smiles modestly on being commended for his way of following up on newspaper articles. “I think once the journalist has written the story,his/her job is done. But for me,it all begins there,” he says.