From the Streets of India to School in Illinois

Publication Date: 
September 13, 2017

Orphaned and just 10 years old, Sanjoy was “rescued” from the streets of Kolkata by a family who ultimately used him as a domestic slave. Unpaid, unfed, and emotionally and physically abused, Sanjoy saw no choice but to run away. He returned to the streets, living among the countless other children who struggled to survive in the dark alleys and crowded corners of one of India’s largest cities.

There, he begged strangers for spare change, a scrap of food, or even just an acknowledgement that he existed. While Sanjoy no longer worried about being beaten by his former “benefactors,” he nevertheless struggled every day with hunger, loneliness and despair.

Then, suddenly, everything changed: a social worker from Don Bosco Ashalayam noticed Sanjoy, and approached him with an invitation to go to school.

In a country where an estimated eight million children are out of school, such opportunities are crucial to their futures. Without an education, they are destined to remain among the more than 30 percent who live in desperate poverty with no means to escape. 

“That was the beginning of a new life for me,” Sanjoy recalls, the joy still apparent in his voice. “Don Bosco Ashalayam is the only family I have ever had!”

Operating throughout India, Don Bosco Ashalayam rescues and rehabilitates street children like Sanjoy by first offering them safe shelter, warm beds, daily meals and medical care. Far removed from the daily challenges of living on the streets, these boys and girls slowly begin to reclaim their lost childhoods -- learning how “to just be kids again.” Through sports, games and other recreational activities, they also learn crucial life skills: personal hygiene; building self-esteem; avoiding addictive substances; and conquering their many fears.

When they are ready, children -- most of whom have never been to school -- attend an intensive educational program to prepare them for the future. And the Don Bosco Ashalayam staff offer continuous support to ensure that these young students succeed.

Recognizing the opportunity before him, Sanjoy immersed himself in his schoolwork by studying hard and earning good grades. Now, 12 years later, Sanjoy has been awarded a scholarship to attend university in the United States at the College of DuPage outside Chicago.

“Don Bosco Ashalayam has offered me a life that goes beyond my wildest dreams,” Sanjoy says. “I could never have imagined that a street boy like me could study in the United States. I feel so happy!” he exclaims.

Another heartwarming success story made possible through the kind generosity of our many friends!

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