Dr. Biju Mathew visited Bihar twice to in order to gain perspective to write his book.

Maple Ridge doctor inspired to write

Life story of founder of Super 30 in India.

There’s no doubt Dr. Biju Mathew could tell some fascinating stories. As a consultant psychiatrist at Ridge Meadows Hospital, as well as a clinical associate professor at the University of British Columbia, his career crosses paths with a wide range of people in desperate need of his help.

While he does publish work, usually it’s clinical papers, meant to delve into the depths of his chosen profession.

They are not stories.

But a meeting with one of India’s most noted mathematicians has opened a new door for Mathew.

Anand Kumar was in Maple Ridge in 2012 as the guest of honour for the Ridge Meadows South Asian Gala. Kumar is the founder of India’s most unique and charitable schools, Super 30.

The school seeks out 30 exemplary students found in the slums of the economically backward sections of India in hopes of graduating the students on to universities like the Indian Institute of Technology, one of the country’s most prestigious post secondary schools.

It is a story that admittedly fascinated Mathew. The two instantly stuck up a bond. And then Kumar broached the idea of having the Maple Ridge doctor write his life story.

Mathew admitted he was hesitant at first.

“I’ve never done anything like this. I wasn’t sure. I’ve written research papers, but nothing like this.”

But the opportunity was too good to pass up.

To do it, Mathew knew he needed to experience a little of what Kumar’s life was like. In order to write the book, Mathew was compelled to fully immerse himself in his subject.

“I needed to be able to smell and hear the stories first hand for myself,” said the doctor. “People can tell you about the poverty and what life is like in India, but you can’t truly comprehend it unless you experience it.”

So he took two separate trips to Bihar, located in the northeast corner of India, in 2012 and again a year later. He spoke with friends and family. He went to the crumbled buildings that disguise themselves as schools. He talked to Kumar’s students.

He still wasn’t convinced he could write the book. Others had tried, only to be rejected. So Mathew put pen to paper. He submitted two chapters.

Kumar loved it.

The book, to be published by Penguin, will hit bookstands in October. There is no financial interest in the sales for Kumar or Mathew. All proceeds will help go to build a more modern Super 30 school.

The experience has created an unfathomable bond with Kumar.

“He calls me his brother,” said Mathew. “We talk on the phone at least twice a week and exchange so many emails. We have become incredibly close friends.”

He said what he has discovered is Kumar is a man whose own life was shaped by incredible poverty. Brilliant in math from an early age, Kumar excelled in school and had the marks that were good enough to land him entrance to Cambridge University.

But the unexpected death of his father meant there would be no dream of higher education. He spent his days selling papad, a seasoned flat bread, made by his mother so the family could keep the wolf from the door. But his love of math never died. It inspired him. It drove him to work harder. Mathew said he feels Kumar’s trials only made him that much more intent on succeeding.

“His humility is very evident from the first time you meet him,” said the psychiatrist. “Poverty played such a big role in his life. He knows exactly what every one of his students goes through because he’s lived it. His integrity is incredible,” said Mathew.

The doctor said it’s is evident in the fact he’s still trying to raise money to build his school. Mathew said the hand of corruption can be pervasive in India. Kumar has had plenty of offers to finance his school, but Mathew said the Super 30 founder knows what the price would be if he takes the easy road. He will lose control over what matters most to him –helping the poorest of the poor build a better life.

Since its inception in 2001, Super 30’s success has been nothing short of remarkable. In the last eight years alone, 212 of its 240 students have graduated on to some of the country’s top technical universities, providing them a chance to escape the crushing poverty that cripples the communities they grew up in. The school not only provides an education, but also provides food and shelter.

For Mathew, the chance to share in that story has been one of his great achievements.

“I’m very humbled.”

 

Just Posted

Maple Ridge pair denied stay of extradition

Two facing charges in India from 2000

Maple Ridge returns to B.C. Supreme Court to address tent city safety

Order to better identify those living in the camp who do not have housing or shelter.

Girl, 6, lured from elementary school, sexually assaulted: Vancouver police

Police are seeking dashcam footage from nearby Sexsmith Elementary School in South Vancouver

Cram the Cruiser event this Thursday

Ridge Meadows RCMP raising donations for Friends in Need Food Bank

Flames start December with two wins

Teddy Bear Toss night this Friday

Ridge hospital foundation helps with mental health

Donates a possible $500k for youth wellness

B.C. Liberals call for outside audit of Speaker’s office, NDP refuses

Auditor General implicated in Darryl Plecas accusations of impropriety

Three victims of ex-ski coach Bertrand Charest suing Alpine Canada

The victims are also seeking $150,000 each in punitive damages

Trudeau names four new senators, filling every seat in the Senate

Trudeau has appointed 49 senators since becoming prime minister and will have the chance to appoint more in 2019

B.C. member of parliament takes feds to task on opioid crisis

‘Too many families are tragically losing parents, siblings and children to the opioid crisis.’

Heart attack raises questions about boarding BC Ferries in health emergencies

Quadra Island man recovering after being airlifted to hospital in Victoria

Judge gives Michael Cohen 3 years in prison

Judge William H. Pauley III said Cohen deserved a harsh punishment for crimes including tax evasion

Humboldt Broncos, cannabis, Fortnite: Here are Canadians’ top Google searches for 2018

When celebrities died or Canada Post went on strike, Canada turned to Google

B.C. billionaires worth 5,845 times average middle-income household

Economists argue for changes to Canadian tax system benefitting rich

Most Read