An amateur photographer in Kerala took a photo while walking around his village then shared it to social media, which ended up changing a man’s life for the better and even attracting the attention of India’s Prime Minister.
Photo of Paralyzed Man Cleaning Plastic From River causes positive ripples
A passion for photography has always gripped Nandu KS, a young engineer from Kerala, India. Now he says knows there was a purpose behind this calling, after a photo he took while walking around his village ended up going viral and changing a man’s life, even receiving praise from India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“I was always keen to capture images which had a story to tell, images which had life.”
Nandu KS is an engineer by profession, but he believes he was born to be a photographer. After his engineering studies, a career in photography did not seem to be viable at that point, so it was then he took a flight to UAE like many other Keralites in search of a job.
Nandu managed to secure an electrical engineer position in Abu dhabi. However, his mind was still stuck with photography. Two years of UAE life, the job pressure, the boredom and the constant voice in the back of his mind to follow his passion eventually forced him to quit his job and return to Kerala.
Now, there he was jobless, at home, not having enough money to buy a camera. But, thanks to all those camera rental shops, he took one for rent. In his own words:
“I was always keen to capture images which had a story to tell, images which had life. What better way than a photowalk through my own village. So, I went to different routes, roads, alleys, searching for stories. Hundreds of faces, people, junctions, houses and what not. But nothing found so interesting till one day.
“One day, as usual on a photowalk, I was on a bridge across a river with a friend of mine. My friend asked me to click a candid picture of his. As i was clicking his pictures, I noticed a man rowing a boat, which by the way, is a normal scenarioinour village. What made this scene different from others is that, he was collecting something from the river. More interestingly, I saw people throwing bottles to the river while this man was approaching them. Curious enough, I clicked his photo and asked my friend about this.”
“He smiled at me and then I knew what it meant to be a photographer.”
“So, that man is Mr. Rajappan. People lovingly call him Rajappan chettan (Brother Rajappan). Rajan chettan cannot walk as he is disabled by birth. He collects plastic bottles from the river. Now it makes sense, why people threw bottles at him while he was approaching. Every single day Rajppan Chettan, no matter what his disability is, he gets into the boat, rows it through the meenachil river and collects bottles from it. A boat full of bottles earns him Rs. 12( 0.17 Dollars). The villagers being kind enough to throw bottles to the river as he approaches.
“In a way, what Rajppan Chettan does is much more valuable from what we all do. He cleans the river every single day and makes a living out of it.
“I always wondered what it felt like to follow your passion, but never knew its true feeling till the day I met Rajppan Chettan.”
“I went to him and showed him the photo I clicked, he smiled at me and then I knew what it meant to be a photographer.”
“I uploaded his story and photo to the social media. From that moment, there was no turning back. Thousands of people came for the support of Rajan Chettan. Both financially and morally. I could see his life changing. The biggest appreciation was when the honorable Indian Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) mentioned Rajan Chettan’s good work through his monthly radio show Mann ki baat. And all of that happened because of one photograph.
“Every picture transpires something to all of us, it takes a photographer to be at that moment and make that picture happen for the world to know the story.
“Being a tool to the supreme power!”
Nandu – The photographer
The story went viral and inspired Indians to send gifts to the old man
Nandu uploaded his story and photos to his Pro Media Facebook page, and people began retweeting it, including the UN Environment Program chief Erik Solheim, who suggested, “Let’s make this guy famous.”
Even the Indian Prime Minister himself, Narendra Modi, then commended Rajappan’s efforts during his monthly radio address. “I have seen news from Kerala which reminds us of our responsibilities,” he said, telling his listeners the story. “Imagine how highly he thinks! We must also take inspiration from him and contribute towards cleanliness as far as possible.”
The story has since gone completely viral, and inspired Indians to send gifts to the old man.
So far, he’s been rewarded with a new motorboat, courtesy of a local businessman, and plans are in the works to build him a little home to replace the riverside shack that had been severely damaged in a storm.
Perhaps best of all, a Bangalore-based wheelchair manufacturer has given him a heavy-duty motorised wheelchair.
“With support coming in from thousands of people, both financially and morally, I could see his life changing,” Nandu said.
SUPPORT RAJAPPAN DIRECT
To support Rajappan financially, you can donate directly to his account. Details here:<br /> Name: Rajappan.N.S<br /> Account No: 17760100068162<br /> IFSC code: FDRL0001776<br /> Federal Bank Kumarakom.