‘The job came as a New Year gift and I want to make the best of it’

E. Srimannarayan was only 10 when he ran away from home at Kanigiri in Prakasam district. Angry for being beaten up by his father, he stepped out and hit the road. Pangs of hunger forced him to work as a cleaner in a hotel.

After a few months, he shifted to Karimnagar and worked as a daily-wage coolie at a construction site. But soon the young boy found himself inadequate to do the hard work and did the next best thing that came to his mind – he boarded a train to Vijayawada and landed at the local railway station. Living on the platforms of Vijayawada railway for the next one year, he kept himself afloat by begging and rag-picking.

One fine day, he found himself isolated after a tiff with his ‘friends’. He headed to the night shelter operated by a local NGO Navajeevan Bala Bhavan near the railway station because the volunteers there were familiar. He had seen them in the railway station, almost daily, motivating street kids like him to join the shelter.

“They promised me that they will send me to school and I agreed because I wanted to fulfil my dream of becoming an engineer,” says Srimannarayana.

Bridge school

To make up for the lost time, he joined a bridge school before going to a mainstream institution. Now, 24, Srimannarayana has completed engineering and has bagged the post of an electrical engineer in L&T, Visakhapatnam.

“The job came as a New Year gift and I want to make the best of it. The way I was motivated worked wonders for my life and I want the same for others on street,” he says.

The tale of 22-year-old A. Vinod Kumar is more or less the same. The youngster can’t remember when or how he landed on streets. “I was just four and found myself working as a domestic help in some area of Tirupati. Too much work and no food made life miserable. I did menial works at many places before landing at Chennai railway station where I was picked by Don Bosco volunteers,” he recalls.

The boy could speak only Telugu and so he was referred to Navajeevan Bala Bhavan in Vijayawada. But, he did not like the strict regimen at Bala Bhavan and ran away many times only to be brought back every time by volunteers. He joined school and in 7 standard, and he emerged topper. That’s when he realised that better things were possible in life.

After a three-year diploma in polytechnic, he sat for ECET and directly joined the second year engineering course in a local college. Vinod Kumar has bagged a job of a loco-pilot in South Central Railway.

Both the boys have vowed to adopt two school-going street children each and sponsor their education.