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History of Our Children

Today he is 15 years old. “ We are good friends. Aren’t we?” I ask him. “ Yes, we are!” He replies. This is our constant starter for any conversation and I always introduce him to others as boy who is good at Maths.

Alok remains a mystery to me. He hails from somewhere in Andhra Pradesh. He was picked up  by the police from the streets of this city and brought to us nine  years ago. He ran away from the centre twice only to return by himself. Once he was taken to his native village in search of  his relatives with no clue as to his familiar childhood neighbourhood. He was placed in a home there and within a year he was back to Don Bosco!

He always was a loner. He likes to have his own privacy and hates any interference in  his life from others. Alok has his ups and downs. He is quite studious and loves Maths in which he scores cent per cent! He loves to read newspapers and magazines.

Alok  gets into all kinds of troubles with his companions who by now have learned to put up with his idiosyncrasies.  My approach to Alok is one of patience and humility. He needs to feel that he is a winner and once  he tastes victory he steps down from his victory stand  only to apologize for his follies. “ Sorry Father! I made a mistake and I won’t do it again!” Isn’t this a sign of nobility?
Alok is enigmatic! He has his own share of follies. Who does not have them? Here  is a boy with a great future. He will make his own unique contribution to the society!

The other day Aby’s father came to meet him and took him out to do some purchasing. After the purchase his cell phone disappeared. Both the father and the son believed that it was probably left  at the billing counter. They betook themselves to the shop only to find that it was not there. The next day one of the staff members  happened to go to the school and found Aby trying to make a call from a cell phone!   Aby had his own very plausible explanations!! The phone is with the warden!

Aby is restless in all the classes. He finds it difficult to concentrate. Picks up quarrels with his companions.  Does not like to be corrected.  Is a cool guy!  He seems to be inventing problems just to try our patience!  Aby is good at studies. He reads well and loves to play. He prays like an over-enthusiastic evangelist! Though  fifteen he  has not received Communion as he was in a home run by Jehowah’s Witnesses!

Aby’s parents are divorced.  His sister is with his mother who lives with her own sister’s family.  His father is a drunkard and a drug-addict. He lives by himself and works in a restaurant.  Aby seems to have mastered the art of manipulating his separated parents as it often happens in such families!
Aby’s brother too is with us.  “ If you send  Aby away our lives will end on a railway track. We have no place to live!”, pleads his mother.   I will NEVER  send Aby away. He is with us to be redeemed and not to be condemned!

There was absolute concern in his voice as he stammered: “ Father, please help rescue  my sister and bring her here. She is in danger. She needs to be  pulled away from that horrible place before she gets lost!”   I was humbled by the sensitivity of this child. I had not realized that Karma  was capable of such tender feelings. I could see tears welling up in his eyes as he stood before me pleading to do something before it was too late.

Sharma had just returned from a visit to his home far away in Dimapur in the state of Nagaland.  The journey alone took him and his escort nine days and nine nights to reach the town. A few more days were spent in finding out his family. His inability to locate his mother wrecked him. However he was able to meet his father and his younger sister. She is below sixteen and yet is employed  in road construction and exposed to immense dangers. Meanwhile his  father seemed to be reveling in his notoriety!

It was the cruelty of his father that drove him mad and eventually made him escape from home! That was about 8 years ago.  He is now attending school and is in Class IX. Sharma has won several awards at local, state and national levels. A good artist, an animal lover, a sportsman that he is Sharma is humble too.

Except for his volcanic temper he is a good boy!  We are hopeful that he will be able to quell the raging flames of his volatile temper! As for his sister we are trying to get her rehabilitated through our centres in Dimapur. Sharma’s sister has now become  our responsibility !

KARMA, OUR GOLD MEDALIST - He beat his social odds to become a champ!
Karma  is his real name. He hails from the state of Assam. Was forced to leave home six years ago due to the bestial  cruelty he endured at home from his father who was brutal in every sense of the word. That was in 2005. Today this boy who still has horrible memory of those dark days is our champion.

Karma won the gold medal at the recently concluded state level judo competition for juniors. He was in the local news and his school gave him a grand reception. We share his glory too as he is our boy!  His first in the state takes him now to the national championship. Karma is a boy with great talents. He is an artist, plays the key-board, is good at boxing, is great in the play ground and loves Jesus whom he wants to receive . He is not baptized as most of our boys are. We wait till they complete 18! He pleads with me “ I want to receive Jesus and feel sad when others go to Communion. Please help me Father!”  I told him to be patient for a while more.  He wants to win at the national and receive Holy Communion and offer his medal to Jesus!

What makes me proud of Karma is his humility and sense to gratitude to God. He is calm and is focused in life. His aim is to be a physician so that he can serve the poor. “ My mother used to tell me that I should be a doctor!” I am sure Karma will achieve his life’s ambition and  will serve Jesus in His brothers and sisters especially the poor!”
Let us pray for Karma.

He is 15 years old and was brought to us from a distant place referred by the Child Welfare Committee -  a juridical body that has the care of the young especially those rescued from dangerous situations. That was about three months ago. Let us call him Param which is not his real name. His father is a drunk and his step-mother drove  him out of the house. That is when he was rescued by officials. He was placed in  government institutions without much sign of progress in his attitude toward life in general. He was angry and impatient. Finally they brought him to us. I am happy that they did so.

Param was quiet and merged into the community of forty four others who are from diverse backgrounds and most hailing from disintegrated family backgrounds.  He joined the others in attending regular classes in a nearby school. Though there was  nothing outstanding about him, Param carried out the chores assigned to him with diligence.

About two weeks ago  I heard something that shocked me. Param had stolen a bar of iron  ( some renovation is going on here)   and exchanged it for two packets of Indian  cigarette ‘ beedi’  which is basically rolled tobacco flakes. He was addicted to tobacco! Then one night he disappeared! The boys combed the compound and found him hiding in a corner.  They brought him to me and at this point I spoke to him gently and told him to pray for a while in the prayer room.  He did spend some time in the room.

Param met me the next day and told me that he  wanted to leave.  “ I am happy here but want to be free to do what I want. I want to discontinue my studies”, he said.  I tried my best to dissuade him from his decision. Finally at his insistence I had to inform the govt. authorities about his decision. Meanwhile the other kids were praying for him. At no point of time was he punished or made to feel more miserable. Then something very amazing happened. Param expressed his desire to stay on!   Loving kindness, patience and prayer worked wonders.

“ Look here Father. I’ll show you something. See the moon up in the sky? It runs with me. It is my moon!!” saying this he ran a little distance  and shouted back: “ See Father. The moon is here!” Then he ran back beaming  with pride to marvel at the miracle of the moon! “ Look Father! The moon is back with me! Didn’t I tell you?  I have two moons. One is here and the other one is at my place. They are different. There it is curved and here it is full circle!”  Then he added: “ Do you have a moon father?” This experience touched my heart and brought me closer to him. And I hugged him for dear. Here is a little 5 year old boy -  someone with unadulterated innocence. How I wish I could be like him! We call him B.P. He was rescued by the police from the train and entrusted to us. He was found begging singing popular melodies in trains. He spoke Hindi and was obviously from somewhere in North India.

His first days were rather tough both for him and for the staff as well. Now he is totally at home after one year. B.P. is unquestionably the most popular child in the Home. All love him and his antics. He exudes joy and his laughter is contagious.  By now fluent in  Malayalam his description of any event is captivating.

B.P. has very special love for birds and animals. Leading me to the three dogs that had landed there on their wanderings  he tells me: “ Father, these are my dogs. They listen to me. Just watch. ” He called one and it wagged its tail and grinned at him. “ See! I told you. They obey me.” Then he went on to describe  in very graphic language how ferocious the dogs are especially towards stray dogs and thieves, how they would tear them up  into bits if they ever dared to enter the compound  in the night. He did not know that his dogs were also stray dogs not long ago!

The little boy is very kind, affable, loving and compassionate. I have heard him admonish wrong doers not to do anything bad.  He loves  SNEHA BHAVAN. “ This is my home!” 
B.P.  is our ambassador. His innocence and spontaneity make every visitor feel at home instantly . It is great to see him holding the visitors’ hands and offering them a guided tour!

B.P. sings well as he used to do. He thrills the visitors as he  sings in four languages! His native intelligence coupled with his congenial ways  is his greatest asset ! I love him dearly and my heart goes out to him as he has nowhere to go until we trace out his roots! We are his family and he is our child. What an awesome responsibility! I pray that B.P. may continue to be the sweetest child that he is now. Of course he will grow as little boy Jesus did!
What do you think of a 15 year old lad who ran away from home when he was hardly five?  He had several free rides c/o Indian Railways, was institutionalized in four different Government homes and two private centres?  He joined us back in 2011 after a gap of six years!  Soon he was enrolled in the nearby school in class VIII.

He believes in placing his interests before those of others. His reasoning: “ Unless I look after myself, nobody else will! Let me make sure of myself first. Only then can I help others later!” For him rules of the Home are not obligatory. They are better  left to the convenience of the boys. “ Why pray? There is no God. Where is he? “ are few of his comments on life!

When he gets hurt or irritated he flares up! He threatens to lodge complaints with the police. In fact he did so on three occasions! After completing his exams in March he decided to go to his village in the nearby state of Andhra Pradesh. Not a word was mentioned to the staff. Few of  his companions knew what he was going to do.

He called me up  telling me that everything was okay with him and that he would return at the end of the month.  I welcomed him back and asked him to take care of himself. Once he returns we will have another series of  adventures. We need to have recourse to our reserve of patience, understanding, acceptance and compassion.

“ Father, we have nowhere to go. I have no home . I am working as a house-maid . They won’t let me keep my sons with me. My girl is with the Nuns. Please Father, accept my sons.” Accept we did.  She felt greatly relieved as she thanked me profusely for this favour. It was getting dark  and the lady had to travel long to get to her place of work. The two boys – one 8 years old and the other 5 years old have joined the rest of the family. Now on this will be their dwelling.

This is not a rare case. Most of our children are from such situations of deprivation, want, misery, rejection  and despair.  We are glad to be of some comfort and consolation to such children.
It is indeed a sign of recognition and privilege when such cases come to us. They come with much expectation   and confidence.  We feel trusted when children are entrusted to us. Of course such gestures are accompanied by  the sacred responsibility to offer our  children the best they deserve in the spirit of Christian  love!

Even as I touched him gently and put my arms around him, he continued to sob with a steady line of tears flowing down his innocent cheeks!

His mother had come to see him with his sister. It was vacation time and he wanted to go ‘ home’. It did not matter to him even if he didn’t have a proper home to be their own.  His home was the shack where his grandparents lived. His father had abandoned them .  All that he wanted was to spend some time with his mother and enjoy his freedom from routine!
Finally, his sobbing had its effect and the mother agreed to take him home for two days! She knew what was the best for him and his older sibling who was with us. She could not afford to take care of her three children with no steady income and proper shelter!

After the cruel murder of their mother by their father the four children – two boys and two girls – were rescued by the police and entrusted with the Sisters. The family was in Kerala seeking a livelihood far away from their  little hamlet in Karnataka. That was about fifteen years ago. Eventually the two boys had to be moved and brought to us.

The two girls are doing well pursuing professional careers. The older boy now going seventeen is doing his 12th  year in school. He is intelligent needing occasional taps on his shoulders and cajoling to concentrate on his studies.  He prefers  company to books! The youngest boy does not seem to be fascinated by studies. He loves to dress well and is to be treated with a high dose of patience.
Some time ago the father was tested positive for HIV  AIDS and wanted to meet the children before he dies. The two boys have gone to their village though initially they did not feel comfortable with the news about their father’s illness. This experience will have salutary impact on their lives!

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