Rakesh Prajapat, MKEA* Management Group Member
Rakesh Prajapat, was a member of our job club who helped manage and provide direction to MKEA prior to our establishment as the charity Careers-Action. Rakesh suddenly and tragically died at the age of 47 on 2 May 2015. The tribute that follows was prepared for delivery at his funeral service.
I want to begin by apologising for my absence today; I am away with my family for a week’s break, the only one we can manage each year. I know Rakesh would have said “Go your family should come first” as it did with him. Today John Dale, Andrew Stanley and I are away on holiday and Mike Leaf has a job interview, together with Rakesh and Chris Alcock who has kindly offered to read this, they made up the management and prospective Trustee group of MKEA. We want you all to know that as you sit here in Milton Keynes we will be doing the same in the Philippines, Germany, and the UK sharing with you and remembering what Rakesh was to each of us and how much he was loved and respected.
In recent days I’ve been thinking about what Rakesh meant to me and it really is quite simple, Rakesh was a friend, someone you could count on when it gets tough, and encourager when you are down, the extra pair of hands, ears and eyes helping when you struggle to cope. 21 February 1968 to 2 May 2015 are the dates that Rakesh shared with us, and he certainly shared! That the time is short cannot be changed, what your life meant to others is what counts.
I got to know Rakesh three years ago when he turned up at Milton Keynes Executives Action, he came in and sat quietly taking everything in, that was the only time I can ever recall him sitting quietly!
At the end of the evening he came over to me, his mind made up he was going to help! Rakesh was determined
“No seriously I’ll do it.”
The following week he arrived early
“Hey Melvin did you know….. ?” “Give me the business cards and I’ll type them into a database, I don’t mind doing the boring stuff…”
The next day an email arrived with a spreadsheet database of the business card library built up over the past year.
Quite simply Rakesh cared about others, he was always there with a friendly smile, copious encouragement and a commitment that was amazing to discover. Over the past few days MKEA members who we had not seen or heard from for months and years contacted me with expressions of disbelief and stories of how Rakesh had maintained regular contact with them and how much he had helped!
His encouragement was compassionate and vibrantly contagious always leaving you feeling upbeat and positive. Adversity was something to be taken as an opportunity and Rakesh was there to show the way forward. “Hey Melvin I’ve looked at it and found out…”
Enthusiasm was always there, and so were the questions, Rakesh was never embarrassed, he always asked what everyone else was thinking, but didn’t have the courage to ask themselves.
He loved to play along with a leg pull and I ribbed him every week when the winning ticket for our weekly fundraising raffle was drawn, he’d won it 3 or 4 weeks in succession and he would feign embarrassment as another winning ticket came out of his pocket, the reality was he bought far more than anyone else!
“Hey Melvin you could set up a management support group, I’ll help out ” He did including volunteering to become our Company Secretary in a new charity enterprise. He would have been brilliant but would have needed reminders to get to the meetings, he regularly arrived flustered and apologetic after a reminder telephone call answered with
“What now? Oh Melvin I thought it was on….”
and my response “Yes Rakesh that is today!”
Shortly before his death in June 1968 Bobby Kennedy paraphrased George Bernard Shaw with the words “Some men see things as they are and say why? I see things as they could be and say WHY NOT?”
Rakesh Prajapat was certainly one of life’s “Why Nots?” and that is what made him so special to me and to so very many others. So when you think of Rakesh, smile. His days may not have been long but, he leaves a legacy of compassion, action and fun, and two daughters, Sophie and Nikki of whom he was tremendously proud to be their father. So please smile when you leave today, smile and share with Sophie and Nikki a good time that Rakesh shared with you, Rakesh may have gone but he will remain with us in memory and that really is something to smile about.
Melvin Hurley May 2015
*Prior to becoming a charity in 2016 Careers-Action was known as MKEA.