May 31, 2009 3:16:53 am
While Keerthala Shravan Kumar Rao from Khammam is battling for life at the Royal Melbourne Hospital,his uncle was on Friday night able to board a Singapore Airlines flight to Sydney,thanks to the Air Travel Agents Association (ATAA) which sponsored his ticket.
Shravan was attacked by four teenagers at his rented home in Hadfield Springs on May 26. As he continues to be on life-support at the Intensive Care Unit of the Melbourne hospital,his family back home is finding it difficult to raise the money needed to bear his medical expenses.
His father Chidambar Rao,a farmer,is now running from pillar to post trying to arrange money for his Shravanï¿½s treatment. With Chief Minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy away in Bethelhem,Rao met Opposition leader N Chandrababu Naidu to seek help.
Raoï¿½s is not a solitary case. A growing number of families in Andhra Pradesh are finding themselves unable to meet emergencies,having spent all their savings,some even taking hefty loans by mortgaging their lands or property,to send their children to universities abroad.
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In the past two years,at least 30 students from Andhra Pradesh have either been victims of attacks,or mishaps,in the US,UK and recently,in Australia. Except in one case,parents of the victims were unable to go abroad and be with their children.
Shravanï¿½s elder brother Rajesh Rao,who works at a call centre in Hyderabad,said on Saturday that had the ATAA not sponsored the ticket,his uncle could not have flown to see his brother. ï¿½My father and I pooled in all our savings and borrowed some from friends and relatives. The ticket itself was costing Rs 40,000. There was not much left after that. We also have to pay to Shravanï¿½s friends who are spending on his medicines. If the travel agents had not sponsored the ticket my uncle would have gone with little cash. What can he do there without any money?ï¿½ asked Rajesh.
Shravan went to Melbourneï¿½s Cambridge International College two years ago to study Automotive Engineering and Raoï¿½s family has so far spent Rs 20 lakh on his studies. Rajesh said they have hefty EMIs to pay on the loans they took to finance Shravanï¿½s education. ï¿½Unless we get some help from either governments we wonï¿½t be able to pay the medical bills. I donï¿½t know how long he will be in hospital and how we will manage to bring him home,ï¿½ Rajesh said. The ATAA has agreed to sponsor one more ticket next week for Shravanï¿½s father,who is expected to get a visa by then.
ï¿½Seventy per cent families spend their entire money paying for foreign university admissions,fees,air-tickets and accommodation. In an emergency,they hardly have enough money to fly to the country,ï¿½ said K Narayanan,an overseas education consultant.
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