“I grew up at a red-light area in Shrirampur. It was a dangerous environment to be in — one of my classmates was a murderer and the others were thieves who taught me the art of pocket cutting. We’d often pickpocket people at train stations…and we were proud of it. We were always upto no good — but one day one of our pranks went horribly wrong. We were throwing stones at each other, and one of our friends passed away, because it hit him on the head. That shook me up and I decided to stop all these practices and become a better person.
I began to focus on my 9th grade exams, when all of a sudden, my mother fell really ill — she was HIV positive. Before I knew what was happening she passed away, leaving my brother and I alone. I hadn’t seen my father in years, and I knew that I would have to take care of my brother and pull my life together.
Earlier, I would run away from these NGO volunteers who would try and ‘save us’ from our surroundings, but that day I walked up to them myself and told them what had happened — Snehalaya welcomed us with open arms.
When I walked into their premises, everyone was so warm and caring that I finally felt like I belonged somewhere — I’d never known that feeling my entire life. I let go of my past and vouched to survive, fight and create a life for myself that I could be proud of.
Girish Sir has had a deep impact on me — I’ve seen him dedicate his entire life to children like me and all our dreams. He has taught us how to embrace one another as family, and stand by each other as brothers and sisters. As soon as I was done studying, I joined the NGO to assist my Sir in saving lives — we have seen all sorts of cases. From rape and HIV victims, to sex workers and abandoned children — we have brought them all into our family.
I still remember, finding a new born baby, wrapped in a carpet, discarded in a dustbin. I rescued that baby and today, watch him grow in front of my eyes — nothing has given me more joy. We counsel all those who we rescue to be fearless and take control of their lives…so that they can lead tomorrow. Today, our rape victims, vehemently share their experiences and fight for others like them.
I’ve dedicated my life to this service, because I know how it has served me. I get a lot of job offers, but don’t accept anything that doesn’t allow me to volunteer full time. I have few material desires — everything I need, I already have. My service is everything to me, saving lives and rehabilitating people is what I live for and to be a ‘Girish Sir’ in a lost child’s life, is everything I dream of ever being.”
“( This story fist published on facebook page Humans of Bombay)