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Shamla an inspiration to Barrackpore

Monday, December 27, 2010
Education Junior Minister Clifton De Coteau, left, presents University of the West Indies graduate Shamla Maharaj, centre, with a hamper yesterday in honour of her academic success despite her physical disability. Photo: RESHMA RAGOONATH

Santa Claus, in the form of red hat-wearing Education Junior Minister Clifton de Coteau, paid a special visit to spread Christmas cheer to wheelchair-bound Shamla Maharaj yesterday. Maharaj won many hearts when she graduated from the University of the West Indies last month with a Bachelors of Science in Agribusiness Management. Yesterday De Coteau, who described Maharaj, 25, of Cunjal Road, as “Barrackpore’s Individual of the Year” said: “She should be used as an example to all students.”

Maharaj, who is currently pursing her Masters’ degree, received a hamper of goodies for her academic achievement from charity organisation Santa Ville Workshop during their annual Christmas parade. 
The 25-year-old, who shook as she spoke, said she was overwhelmed by the outpouring of support for her. “This was a very great Christmas present to have the minister come visit me,” she said.
Maharaj earned national attention since she was able to succeed despite her physical disability.

She said her Christmas wish was to make a positive impact on the nation’s youths and with 2011 fast approaching, Maharaj had a special message for all young people. “No matter what position you are in, only when you have a goal to pursue and you pursue it only then will you get rid of negativity.” Cunjal Councillor Raffie Mohammed said Maharaj was “an inspiration to all.” During the parade, which was accompanied by a music truck, a decorated tractor with snack bags, children dressed in cartoon character costumes and Santa Claus, presented Teelucksingh Trace residents Dial Kissoon, 57, and Lilmanie Roopchan, 68, with fire extinguishers for their safety. Kissoon’s home was partially destroyed by fire last month.