Sahil* was born in 2004 in Banaras, also known as Varanasi, which is a city in Uttar Pradesh. He lived there with his sister, his parents, and his grandparents. He was studying in an English medium school too.
One day in 2010 though, all that changed when a horrifying cylinder blast killed his mother. The next few months were extremely painful for the entire family and as Sahil’s dad used to go to work, Sahil was forced to live with his grandparents.
On the surface, it seemed fortunate that his grandparents were around, but for Sahil it was a nightmare. He hated his grandparents and didn’t have a good relationship with either of them.
One day, in his anger he decided to run away from home, so he went to the railway station and boarded a train without buying a ticket, nor knowing where the train was headed.
The police on board the train noticed that something was strange about Sahil and they kept an eye on him. They asked him a couple of questions and found out that he had run away from home, so when the train reached Mumbai, they admitted him into Dongri Home.
In the Dongri home he was put in charge of a couple of children who were mentally handicapped; this involved feeding them, keeping them clean etc.
Around that time, he started hanging out with a few boys who were addicted to chewing raw tobacco, and without a few weeks, Sahil too was addicted.
At Dongri he did not receive any education for almost a year and a half, and during that time none of his family members came searching for him. Thus, in the year 2012, he was shifted to Chembur Children’s Home (CCH)
Once at CCH, he was re-admitted to the 1st standard and began to study once again.
Sahaara came into contact with Sahil through classes that we were conducting at CCH to provide supplementary education to the children.
He was still addicted to raw tobacco and due to this, his lips had started to get affected and disfigured.
For a short period of time after he began classes with Sahaara, our teachers were successful in helping him to break his addiction, but he soon relapsed.
He used to hide his tobacco in the toilet, behind the door and under broken tiles so that others would not find it.
Soon, even tobacco wasn’t enough and he couldn’t eat any food unless he had raw onions along with it. When he could not get his hands on onion, he would even eat rotten ones.
He never used to focus on his studies at all, because his mind was always thinking about where he find onions or tobacco next.
Being a tobacco addict, his speech was slurred and when it came to playing games or sports he would always back out.
Over the next few months, our teachers thought that if they appreciate the positive side of his behaviour he might change his conduct, so they kept appreciating him.
They noticed that he was actually a responsible and committed child, so they started giving him more responsibility in class. He performed the duties he was given well, and thus gained the trust of the teachers. He also said that he had stopped consuming tobacco and onions too.
One day, one of the students complained that Sahil was consuming tobacco again.
The teacher told Sahil that she trusted him, and was confident that he wouldn’t lie to her.
After a few days, he confessed that he had indeed consumed tobacco again, but was really sorry and he promised he would never break her trust again.
So far it has been 2 years since that day, and he is now in the 3rd standard. He still resides in CCH and has not consumed tobacco nor onions again. He has begun to take an active interest in his education and participates extremely well in all the activities. He also recognizes the input of the Sahaara staff in his life, and he recently said this to the teacher – “Didi, jaise aap mujhe samjhate ho, vaise koi nahi samjhata hai”
Roughly translated, that is “Didi (respectful term for someone elder to you), no-one else can help me understand things the way you do”
His life has been turned around through God’s help and the work of our staff, who offered him a way out of his addictions.
We ask for your prayers for him to continue to grow in all aspects of his life.
*Name changed to protect identity.