One Life to Love is a refuge for abandoned and orphaned children living on the streets.
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How Love is Transforming the Lives of India's Abandoned Children
More than 100 million children live on the streets
Surveys suggest India accounts for 11 million of these street children. However, this is a drastic under-estimation. Because of the lack of permanent shelters and the fact that the number of street children is not recorded in any official national survey or study, street children are often called the 'hidden children'. Being hidden, they are at a higher risk of being abused, exploited and neglected.
A Day in the Life of a street child before and after One Life to Love’s intervention
Raju is the youngest of six siblings. Raju’s eldest brother, Rajesh, was just 14 years old when he started working over 70 hours a week in a Motor Repair Shop near his home in a Delhi slum. It wasn’t enough. The six siblings- Rajesh, Rajeev, Sarvan, Radha, Raja and Raju—were malnourished and missing school.
The children’s father abandoned the family years ago. Their mother recently died of a prolonged illness. Raju was only two years old, longing for a mother’s love. It was now up to Rajesh to care for his siblings and pay the bills. He spent most of his time working and the rest in housework.
Then things got worse. Not liking the risk of child tenants, their landlord threw them out of their home. They were alone in the slum without a roof over their heads. Raju was becoming skin and bones.
By the grace of God they were rescued and sent to a shelter home where OLTL founder Courtney was volunteering (2012). However, this shelter was overrun with street children. They could barely provide healthy meals and decent clothing for the siblings. Raja, the second youngest boy, was suffering from Tuberculosis, and the shelter chose not to pay for the treatment. Rather they sent the boys back to their home village in Bihar, 700 miles away. Within a few weeks, Raja died.
Again, the siblings’ lives were at risk, as they did not have enough food to eat. Rajesh returned to Delhi to work as a laborer so he could send some money back to support his siblings.
A few years after returning to Delhi, Rajesh was still struggling to support all of his siblings. Through Facebook, Rajesh was able to get in touch with One Life to Love Founder, Courtney. Rajesh confided in Courtney about Raja’s death and his struggle to care for his siblings. Raju had recently turned 7 years old, but had never been to school. He was traumatized by the events leading up to Raja’s death. This all led him to feel insecure and worried for his own future as well as for his siblings.
Seeing this family’s deep need, One Life to Love offered to ‘adopt’ Raju into the Home of Hope. Rajesh was overjoyed to bring Raju out of the village life of poverty and into a place of healing and hope.
The day Courtney and Raju reunited was joyous in every way.
In addition, One Life to Love helped Rajesh purchase a motorbike so that he could attain a job as a delivery executive, thus slowly but surly lifting him and his family from poverty.
Raju is overcoming the trauma of losing his mother and brother, and the insecurity from shifting from place to place. He is finding refuge in the Home of Hope. He feels at home. He loves learning and playing. He can finally be a child.
Raju is hopeful to attend formal school in the near future where he can work toward his dream of becoming a teacher.
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STORIES FROM THE FIELD
Our Founder gave up her cozy life in the USA to live and serve in the slums of India. She has been able to bridge the gap between donor and beneficiary, providing captivating stories from the field, experienced first-hand.