A Heartwarming Tale from Bangalore
Every five minutes, a vulnerable girl or boy arrives alone and frightened at a train station in Bangalore, one of India’s biggest cities. Every five minutes! Some of them are simply lost, with no ability to find their way home. Others have been abandoned. Many have fled poverty and violence at home. But all share one thing in common: they are on their own, without a caring adult to turn to. No one to hug them, wipe their tears, or assure them that everything is going to be okay. Instead, these children struggle to survive amid the daily chaos and nightly peril, susceptible to trafficking and virtually defenseless against exploitation and abuse.
Society pretends they don’t exist. And sadly, many of them begin to feel unloved. This is just how a young boy named Lokesh Kumar felt.
Lokesh was just seven years old when he found himself at Bangalore’s main railway station, forced to pick rags and beg in order to feed himself. The competition was harsh; in Bangalore, roughly one million girls and boys suffer the same desperate existence. Many begin abusing inhalants, glue and drugs as a way to curb their hunger and dull their despair. Fortunately for Lokesh, he found his way to BOSCO—a Salesian-run program for street kids that has rescued more than 120,000 children during the last 35 years.
Because of the comprehensive support he received in a safe and loving family environment, Lokesh is now an accomplished actor, artist and singer. Thankful for his second chance and proud to be a former “BOSCO boy,” Lokesh returns to the street children’s program regularly, setting a positive example by providing hope and encouragement to other girls and boys like himself. Lokesh’s story expresses the true potential of even the most disadvantaged children, reminding us that they are deserving and in need of love.
“Even a child that has spent so many years on the streets can return to a normal life and be an inspiration for other children,” says Reinhard Heiserer, director of the Salesian-affiliated Austrian non-profit organization called Jugend Eine Welt (“Youth One World”). Each year around the feast day of St. John Bosco (January 31), the organization plans a “Day of Street Children” campaign and this year, the focus was on the Salesian program which helps railway children in India.
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