Raj was only eight when three tragedies struck his family. His mother fell seriously ill an uncle was killed by local gang lords and his father, unable to handle this stress lost his mental balance. Soon he lost his job as well. Raj is the oldest of six siblings and despite his age had no choice but to start working in Mumbai’s dumping ground in Govandi as a ragpicker. Physical injury, threat, violence and illness became routine. But the money he earned kept his house running and paid for medical treatment of both his parents.
After working on the dumping ground for more than five years. Pratham, an NGO offered him a class he could do while working. Aangan case workers met Raj and encouraged him to pursue his educational goals. He entered Aangan’s Life Plan contest, an activity where vulnerable children are coached develop up a plan (highlighting educational/vocational goals. They are mentored and supported to implement these. Raj won Aangan's Life Plan Contest and a scholarship for a computer course, typing and English speaking. He also grew into a peer leader in our Chauraha Program, which reaches boys who engage in dangerous work or risky behavior. Raj helps Aangan find and inspire boys who have struggles similar to himself.
Recently he was finally able to stop working in the dumping ground and his father started earning again. Now at sixteen, he starts the day at his computer and typing classes, then attends formal school (7th standard) in the afternoon and tuitions in the evening. He is chasing his dream to become a computer specialist with dedication and an absolute impressive will.
Eight boys of Aangan's Shakti and Chauraha Program performed at the TEDxYouthMasala conference on November 20th in Mumbai. As they spoke about very personal obstacles and successes they brought alive some of the serious issues of child protection from their own point of view. Watch the video. Click here
We took part in GiveIndia's Giving Challenge 2011 and were able to exceed our fundraising target of 5 Lakh and also won matching funds. Thanks so much to everyone for supporting our work. It really means a lot to us.