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Narayanan Krishnan was an award-winning chef with Taj Hotels in Bangalore in the state of Karnataka in India. His excellence meant that he was short-listed for an elite job in Switzerland. It was the year 2002. An unforgettably horrible sight changed Narayanan's life forever. He saw a very old street dweller eating his own human waste out of hunger. Narayanan quickly ran to a nearby restaurant and got some idlis (a popular item eaten as breakfast). When he gave the idlis to the old man, he was surprised at the speed with which the man ate. It brought tears of joy into Narayanan's eyes. More importantly, it did something to his heart. A dream job in Switzerland was beckoning, but Narayanan found his calling in life when the old man ate his idlis.

Narayanan started to feed the homeless and mentally-disabled in Madurai. The next year, he started the Akshaya Trust. Today, he serves breakfast, lunch and dinner to 425 indigent and elderly people in Madurai. He also provides haircuts and shaves to give dignity to those he serves. Recognizing how he had scaled the heights of true human spirit, Narayanan Krishnan was selected as one of the Top 10 CNN heroes of 2010.

That same year, the Top CNN Hero was a woman from the small nation of Nepal. Pushpa Basnet was an undergraduate in Social Work in a college in Kathmandu. As part of her college assignment, she visited the inmates of a woman's prison there. She was utterly dismayed to find that children lived with their mothers behind bars. Only 21 and not earning yet, she quickly raised 70,000 rupees from her close friends and sister. She started a non-profit organisation called the Early Childhood Development Centre. The outfit was set up to provide a day-care program for the children. This was in 2005.

In 2007, she opened a residential home for kids to live outside the prison all year round, while still visiting their imprisoned mothers on weekends and holidays. Basnet runs both a day care centre for the prison children and a residential home for the older ones. She has helped provide alternative residence, school enrolment, free meals and medical care to them.

In 2009, she started a program to coach parents to make handicrafts inside the cell. Basnet wanted to make inmates as well as former inmates to become involved in income generation as a means to help them break out of the cycle of crime and poverty. Gaining respect as a genuine and dedicated social worker, donations started to pour in. As Top CNN Hero, she was granted a total of US$ 300,000 to continue with her work.

Connie Siskowski was eleven when her grandfather fell ill and she became his primary caregiver. Caregiving youth were an invisible population of young persons involved in taking care of elderly or sickly family members. Family caregiving happens behind closed doors and hence hardly ever comes to the notice of the general public. Connie Siskowski was a caregiver herself when she was 11. She knew first-hand how difficult it can be to juggle school, care and a social life. When she started the Caregiving Youth Project at Boca Raton Middle School, the programme proved very successful in helping young caregivers to succeed academically and personally.

In 2002, she founded the American Association of Caregiving Youth. The non-profit organisation succeeded in raising awareness on the issues that young caregivers faced and provided them with support in their home and school life. It included special classes to cover stress and anger, finance management and goal-setting. Home care demonstrations and workshops educated the youngsters on how to be better in performing the care they gave their needy family members. Teachers and school administrators were brought into the know about the stresses of young caregivers that until then had led to truancy, absenteeism and reducing academic performance. In talking about the caregiver youngsters, Connie says that "when people understand about this precious population, they will want to recognize and support them."

Narayanan Krishnan, Pushpa Basnet and Connie Siskowski met for the first time at the presentation ceremony of the 2012 CNN Hero of the Year awards. They spoke different languages. Yet, they had more in common than most of us. They listened to their hearts and rather than reporting to authorities regarding actions that needed to be taken, they took it upon themselves to rise up to the challenge. Each one of them started out single-handedly and led to the world recognizing the validity of their solutions to the problems they addressed. They scaled the heights of excellence with only their determination and single-mindedness, which were worthy of recognition as real life heroes of the world.

   

Answer the following questions using complete sentences

 

1.

From paragraph 1, where was Narayanan Krishnan supposed to go from India ?

 

2.

(a) From paragraph 2, what organisation did N. Krishnan start with ?

(b) From paragraph 2, how many meals does he serve in a single day ?

 

3.

(a) From paragraph 3, who was the Top CNN Hero of the year in 2012 ?

(b) From paragraph 4, name the two facilities that Pushpa Basnet set up in 2007.

 

4.

(a) From paragraph 6, what did Connie Siskowski succeed in bringing to light ?

(b) Why was it important to help the caregivers ?

 

5.

What characteristic stands out in the three CNN Heroes mentioned in the passage ?

Characteristic : ___________

Reason : ____________

 

6.

Based on the passage, write a summary of :

The circumstances that led to the three heroes taking the paths they did.

The good that happened because of their individual efforts.

 

 

 

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Answers
 

1.

He was supposed to go to Switzerland.

 

2.

(a) The organisation he set up was the Akshaya Trust.

(b) He served 425 meals thrice a day, totalling 1,275 meals a day.

 

3.

(a) The Top CNN Hero of 2012 was Pushpa Basnet from Kathmandu.

(b)

(i) Pushpa Basnet ran a day care centre fro the children of imprisoned women.

(ii) She set up a residential home for the older children.

 

4.

(a) She succeeded in bringing to light the plight of a silent unpublicized population of young caregivers who looked after inform and elderly family members.

(b) The stresses of caregiving at home led to problems in handling school, a social life of friends and the care given at home to the needy. Often it led to absenteeism, truancy and poor academic performance.

 

5.

Characteristic: The characteristic that stands out is the courage to take on the problem that they saw individually, with dedication and sincerity.

Reason : All the heroes took on the problem without reference to other authorities or asking the authorities to step in. It is only later, as their endeavours grew in size that the authorities, if any, were involved. In their pioneering spirit, they were indeed trailblazers. This culminated in their recognition as global heroes.

  6.

The defining moment for Narayanan Krishnan happened rather casually indeed. It was one that woke him up to the fact that thee was greater humane satisfaction to be had in feeding the helpless than serving up classy dishes for the affluent. Pushpa Basnet took convicts' children her wing, lightening the burden of the authorities who were happy to pass on their responsibility for the children to somebody else. Connie Siskowski did society an invaluable favour by raising the legitimate concerns of the caregivers, thus not only lightening their burden, but also providing proper training so that caregivers did not have to learn by trial and error on how best to look after their elderly wards. All three of them addressed problems that only needed highlighting for people to take cognisance and respond to. It took true heroes to take on the challenge and lead the way.

 
 
 
 

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Comprehension 1

 

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