Born as an elder sibling into a family of six, Rohit always had to struggle to even have a square meal as his mother was terminally ill and father an alcoholic. After staying in two different hostels he was back with his mother as she needed him to take care of her. Rohit used to do petty jobs to look after his family and one fine day when he was around 13-14 years he came to our kalwa step-in-center where he had the option to work as well as learn. Rohit used to study in the center(step-up syllabus special designed for street kids) during the days and work in a ladoo making shop in the evenings, later we spoke to his mother to place him in our residential care so that he can concentrate well in his studies as we had admitted him in 10th (NIOS board). His struggles were far from over as he had taken math’s and science in 10th so that he can pursue his ITI after 10th, he failed in math’s thrice, but did not give up, he finished 10th with 45%. Hoping to get admission in ITI, he was dejected when he realized he was not eligible when you trust God with your future he makes everything best in His time. After securing admission in MCVC (computer tech) he scored 81% in the 12th state board. Rohit is now settled with his mother and is currently pursuing bachelors in computer applications, the best part is he has joined COGF as a part-time teacher and teaches other kids at our Kurla center.
Time just flies….I remember the time when you came to COGF holding your brothers hand, with lot of expectation. You were a fighter always; you never hesitated to speak your mind irrespective of the consequences. Growing up in an institution is a challenge in itself and you always made sure your voice is heard, no wonder you took up social service for graduation. When you lost your only brother during your 12th board we thought you will not be able to cope up with it and give up, but I am glad you proved us wrong, God often uses our deepest pain as the launching pad of our greatest calling, and you bounced back. During your graduation years in Nirmala Niketan you had your own struggles mostly loneliness and you triumphed here too with God’s grace. The decision to go to Bangalore to pursue MA in development was much debated and yet again you won the arguments, and made it to Bangalore all on your own with 100% scholarship. When we heard the news that you were coming to Mumbai for your final year internship in the NGO were you grew up, we were so happy and proud of you. The topic which you choose for the research is so interesting and something which always bothered you -CHALLENGES FACED BY ORPHAN KIDS. The Turning point in the process of growing up is when you discover the core of strength within you that survives all hurt and use it for the betterment of others. As you leave, you leave behind a little helpless kid and go as young women ready to take on the world……BEST OF LUCK MISS SUVARNA NERHERKAR …PROUD OF YOU.
With the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, as declared by the WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION (WHO) as a public health emergency of international concern awareness program was organized by the team COGF using the technology to bridge the digital gap focusing more on preventive aspects to protect and make awareness among the KATKARI community at Atgaon. With curiosity and active participation this group of people watched slide after slide to get knowledge about this Covid-19 situation around the world. This whole community was not at all aware about the corona virus and also why the other village people were maintaining distance from them. They just knew that they were not allowed to mingle with the people residing in the village. Just taking the help of the technology and using laptop and some PPT slides we could create the interest for learning. We also taught them to stitch cloth mask by themselves and how it can be a preventive measure for this Covid – 19 pandemic situation. There are many other things that can be done using the technology and natural environment to make this community of people more sustainable.
This week we had decided to visit Sagar barku manje in his village at atgaon , taluka shapur. We had earlier settled sagar in kalwa with his siblings but his aunt came and took both the siblings to atgaon, sagar stayed back and was working. Later due to constant ill health we advised him to return to his village and now he is staying with his aunt and siblings.
Sagars story is nothing short of bollywood movie, he was separated from his four brothers and sisters 14yrs back by his mother who fought with his father and took sagar to kurla station from there he came to our home. Father left the other four siblings in his village and left to marry again, one of his brother was with his mama, 2 sisters with aunt one was married at the age of 16, and another brother was raised by brick kiln worker who did not send him to school but made him work in the brick kiln from a very young age. Once when sagar visited his village 4-5 years back he found out about his siblings and brought them together at his aunts place.
Sagar belongs to katkari adivasi community which is listed as primitive tribal group due to very low literacy, stagnant population, and pre -agricultural stages of existence. Literacy rate 7 to 8% (1% among females).On visiting sagar we got to know that he is most educated person in his community and they look up to him for any help and want him to stay there (Sagar was the weakest in studies compared to his peers in our home but God can turn the weakness into strength). Sagar has decided to stay back in his village find work there and help his community people as they are exploited by the other community, one of the incidence he narrated was that of the BMC School were his sister studies they provide only one egg daily in the name of midday meal, examination fees are collected, to write every exam,etc.
Finally, what’s really happening isn’t always obvious. Sometimes great heights require vast support before even the tiniest sprout is visible. We know Gods support is always there with him and waiting to see him grow in HIM and serve others.
The home which was once filled with noise of children chattering and laughter has suddenly become quite during the afternoons .All the children have now being admitted to school , from May we were trying to secure admission in the NNMC school only 2 got admission . One in 3rd and other for 5th, the teachers there asked us to put first pooja in 3rd from 5th std as she is week in studies later asked us to shift both to semi English. The semi English madam was not interested in admitting them there as, three months had passed since the opening of the school .Luckly for us a teacher from another school was present there and took the children to their school and immediately admitted them there. They asked us to bring all the children who didn’t get admission in school because of lack of documents and total 8 children were admitted in that day. The superintendent personally came to meet the children and take them to class. The thing that touched us the most was what the superintendent said “children are not supposed to be on the streets their place is in the school”. They regularly visit the nearby hutments and streets and encourage the parents to send their kids to school, not only that their whole staff contributes towards the fees of those kids who are not able to pay the fees. According to RTE every child has the right to education and should be admitted in school even if the child has no proper documents…but rarely practiced. As we celebrate teachers day soon would like to extend our gratitude to Sayali sanjeev gore madam and her teachers from Radika meghe vidyalaye …….these are the teachers who really strive to give our country a better tomorrow.
The boy who used to beg at BAWA GALI at Dongri with his siblings has finally flown off to U.S whitefield, Washington. Anwar mohammed mirza along with his three siblings grew up in the streets of Mumbai after being disowned by their father a tailor by profession. Their mother stayed on the streets near bawa gali and used to beg near the dargha to feed themselves. The children used to go to the nearby Urdu medium school and later through a friend Anwar’s mother , brought anwar and other two siblings to cogf. Anwar was a bright child and picked up English quickly and was then admitted in holy angels Marthoma School in 4th standard he was good in sports as well as academics, more so he was diligent, hardworking and disciplined. When he was giving his final exams for std 9th, He was a writer for a disabled chid for NIOS board and also for a state board child with learning disability both the kids scored a first class.
Last year Anwar got a chance through school to participate in AFS student exchange scholarship programme to study abroad for a year. With encouragement from his teacher he cleared all the interviews and test but, the most challenging part was getting his passport as he did not have all the required documents. We applied thrice and he was asked to visit passport office thrice for getting proper documents, then when his passport was ready he had to visit the police station and post office so that he gets it in hand as his mother was now living in a hutment in kalwa. When Anwar was selected for the programme we dint have the passport in hand till then, at every point it was like he won’t make it, but Gods plans are higher than ours. Finally all his hard work bore fruits, his prayers were answered and he flew off to U.S on 8th august. His mother who struggled throughout her life was so happy and proud to see her son fly off , with tears in her eyes she told her son not to worry about her or anything here but focus on his studies there…………..DREAMS WORK IF YOU WORK HARDER.
It’s a mixed feeling of joy and pride to see jaira join her brother and sister in kalwa. Sahil was settled few years back after he finished his 12th , he used to work as well as study and today he has finished his graduation and working with furtados as music teacher. We still remember him carrying his little sister to our home and requesting us to see another home for her as the home in which she was placed she had to work in the fields and her feet was filled with sores. As we had only boys home then we decided to start a girls home too so that brothers and sisters can stay in the same organization. As most of them dint have parents the siblings can atleast can stay together.
Jaira was admitted in 2nd std in bmc and then shifted to holy angels marthoma where she studied till sixth std .As jaira was 15 yrs by then ,we put her in 10th NIOS which she cleared with 47%. She then took admission in nes national college for Arts and cleared her 12th with 67%.
We are really happy to see sahil taking up his responsibility as a brother to take full care of jaira and stay together as a family….The Shetty family really makes our heart swell with pride. May God protect and guide you.
Families lie at the center of our Heavenly Father’s plan. . What is family? To some it is a feeling, to some a bond, to some a relationship and to some the entire life. But nonetheless, these are the relationships that help you cope up with your ups and downs in life. But not everyone is blessed with one; you should consider yourself blessed if you have a family to come back to.
Sagar was quite small when his mother brought him to kurla platform after she left his father and half a dozen sibiling in his village. Sagar grew up on platform no 9 of kurla station without knowing the whereabouts of his brothers and sisters. Later at the age of 12 he came to COGF and completed his 10th, during this time his mother passed away with whom he was close. When he was in COGF he started visiting his village and located his brother and sisters. His younger sister was with his alcoholic aunt and one of his brothers used to work in brick kilns and never went to school. After sagar got a job and was settled outside he brought his brother and sister also to COGF to complete their studies.
We at COGF believe that the best environment in which a child is taken care is in a family set-up. Sagar was staying in a working mens hostel for a year and recently was shifted to a rented place in kalwa. On the first day when we had the prayer all the three brothers and sister just couldn’t stop smiling. We were overwhelmed when sagars little sister told that this was the first time they will be staying together in a house as a family. The joy of finally having a roof above their head and to have a family back together was evident in their million dollar smile. PRAISE GOD!!!
On one of the visits to Kalwa center, noticed a little girl about 10yrs of age carrying water on her head standing outside the center. Every time she passed the center she stood there for few minutes and looked at the kids studying . Upon Inquiring found her name was shaboo , and lives in the hut nearby. The teacher in the center told that she often has expressed her desire to study, and stands outside the center
quite often. The teacher had previously visited her house to call her but her grandmother refused to send her as she was the eldest and had to look after other four siblings in the house. The siblings are from second mother as her mother died when she was small. On hearing her story decided to pay her grandmother a visit to convince her to send her to school. Shaboos grandmother was a very old lady she was looking after the other four kids. When we put our request to send shaboo to school she became very angry she was not ready to listen to us, somehow we could convince her to sent shaboo to our center if she finished her work in the afternoon. On hearing this shaboo was very happy and readily agreed to complete her chores and the come to center………..But I was not … when this is the situation in urban cities what about the rural areas. When a 10 yr old finds it hard to fulfill her dream of going to a school, our leaders are dreaming of a digital India.
Just two days ago I was informed about the presence of two puppies in our boys home. Along with the information came the request to permit the puppies to stay. This was not new to me as such request came once in a while regarding kids they meet on the station and are in need. Even though they know the place is full, they are ready to adjust and make space for the newcomer. But this time it is the puppies …and knowing that I am a little paranoid having four legged in the home they had hid the puppies on the terrace. Sayeed one of our boys had found the puppies’ abandoned in the garden and brought them to our home and was taking care of them. Since one week I was wondering why there were no complaints coming in about Sayeed. The boy who kept me busy everyday is now busy taking care of the puppies, feeding , cleaning and taking them out for a walk… When I meet him he had a glow on his face and couldn’t stop smiling….holding on to the puppies tightly. How can I say no to him. God works in amazing ways ….To love is nothing. To be loved is something. But to love and be loved, that’s everything….