Blind by birth, Manoj managed to swim from Advaita Ashram, on one side of the river, to Aluva Manappuram, on the other side of the river.
On Tuesday morning, the people of Kochi were in a jovial mood. The reason for this was because they got to see something that would not have been considered possible on a normal day. 11-year-old R Manoj, a student of School of the Blind in Aluva, successfully crossed the Periyar River, the longest river in the green state of Kerala. This feat, by no means, is a task to be taken lightly as many adults have failed to do the same in their prime.
Blind by birth, Manoj managed to swim from Advaita Ashram, on one side of the river, to Aluva Manappuram, on the other side of the river. Accompanied by his trainer, Saji Vaalasseril, he swam the entire width of the river. Saji has been training people for free since the past eleven years.
Speaking to The New Indian Express, Manoj said, “Navaneeth, one of my seniors, was the first blind person to swim across Periyar.” Navaneeth was also a student of Saji and trained under him for a month. He swam across the river back in 2015. “We have decided that we will do our best to help him take swimming to the next level,” his father Sunil Kumar told IANS. “We will give our son all that we can so that he can train to take his swimming to the next level,” said Kumar, who is a pump operator with the state-owned irrigation department.
“That was my inspiration to study swimming. We hear about many cases of drowning. Everyone needs to study swimming so that such fatalities can be avoided. My initiative was to make people aware of this,” Manoj added.
The 11-year-old was cheered by his teachers and friends from the start until he reached the destination. The school band also continuously cheered for him. His trainer said, “It was so easy to train him. Swimming should be made part of the school curriculum. Parents should always encourage their children to study swimming.”