We met with Rakesh in July 2013 at the Chembur Children’s Home at Mankhurd. He joined our coaching class and was in the 2nd standard.
When Rakesh initially began attending the coaching classes that Sahaara conducts in CCH, he had no interest in his studies, his appearance was dirty and his bathing habits were irregular.
He made multiple attempts to escape from the Home but was always caught by the authorties and brought back.
In our daily interactions with him we noticed that he was a loner and a very emotional child. He rarely mixed around with the other boys and was constantly caught up in his own world.
As the teachers engaged with him, he slowly began opening up and shared his entire life story.
Rakesh and his family lived on the streets in Bandra, a suburb of Mumbai. He and his sister used to beg and his parents were daily wage earners.
One day when Rakesh (who was around 8 years old at the time) and his sister returned home, they could not find their parents. They looked all over but they were nowhere to be found.
Not having a place to stay and not knowing what to do now, both he and his sister continued to beg on the streets for a living.
A few days later he could not trace his sister either. He searched all over for her but he never found her.
Rakesh was shell-shocked, as in a matter of a few days he had lost his parents and his sister. He started wandering around, slipped into bad company and in a short while, got into substance abuse leading him to begin stealing for a living.
This continued for some time and, one day, while he was travelling in the train with a friend, he was apprehended by the police and placed in the New Observation Home at Mankhurd.
His addiction to cigarettes and whitener compelled him to make many attempts to run away from the Home – but he was always caught in the act by the guards and brought back.
At this tender age he had gone through more than what many have gone through in their entire life. He had a lot of mood swings because of his addictions and when he was not able to get to them he would get extremely frustrated and angry.
But his opening up helped him as, for the first time, he felt that someone was listening to him and actually guiding him.
He began sharing about his life and all about his stay and struggles in the Home. This sharing and the counsel that he received from the teachers began shaping him and over a period of four months it was noticed that he had begun mingling with other children and made new friends in the Home.
As the staff spoke to him about the importance of studies and appearance – he too began to take an interest in this.
He got taken up by the incentives that the staff offered to those children who are regular, neat, focus on their studies and make noticeable attempts to improve their handwriting and is trying hard to get stars and prizes in all these areas!
Rakesh is now one of the more responsive children in the classroom!
He is regular, neat and attentive in class and his handwriting has improved and has grown in obedience to the teacher.