I grew in very poor economic conditions. My Dad had no job and so my Mum was the only provider for two children, my sister and me. She used to work during the day in the apartments of the other families to raise a living for us, and return from work to make food which she would sell in a shop in the evening for extra money.

My Mum would need to lock us in the house at times during the day so that we were not harmed or in any kind of trouble while she was at work. The slum area we lived in was always prone to quarrels and fights for the smallest of things, so Mum would lock us in the house for our own safety.

Life was going well in that situation, but then one day there was a clash between some families over family possessions, which is normal in a slum area. But there was a quarrel and a fight that took place and me and my sister were attacked, and this made my Mum concerned for our safety. She made the decision to separate us from the other family members and took us far away from them.

Pursuit helped me to move into a flat of my own, and they mentored me through an incredibly important decision; what to do next with my life.

We started to hop from place to place in search of a house to live in, but eventually, as we had no money, we landed on a train station as our base. It was really hard to live on the station as the police would charge at us for staying there, so mum took us to another state and we started to live there.

And there Mum would go to other family houses for work just the same way as she did before, but this time me and my sister were free to go out ourselves. As we were very poor, me and my sister used to jump onto trains as they pulled in at the station, collect anything passengers had left behind, and bring them back to the family. One day, when I was around three years-old, me and my sister did not make it off the train quick enough, and it pulled out of the station. It did not stop for some days.

When the train finally stopped, we climbed off the train and found we had arrived at Howrah train station, Kolkata. We could not find our way back to our Mum. Along with hundreds of others, me and my sister lived on and around the platforms. One day when I was out for working on the train as usual, collecting food and leftovers to sell, an older lady approached my sister. She wanted to take care of my sister. She promised me she would feed her and give her new clothes, but would bring her back to see me. I refused many times as I did not trust her promises, but eventually I allowed my sister to go. I never saw her again.

A deep depression overcame me from that moment on. I was surviving off the rotten oranges that the fruit sellers would throw away, picking out any good bits left. Some time passed, and I was approached by a man from a project in Kolkata. He was saying similar things that the lady who had taken my sister had said. He wanted to help me, give me somewhere safe to sleep, feed me and give me a family. I said no, fearing that the same thing was happening to me.

Raju by train tracks

The man was continuously sitting with me among the busy crowd of the station, while others watched him interact with me. I kept avoiding what he said and I continued to refuse. But I remember the man talking with me and loving me through my most horrible times. Eventually, I decided to go with him. This man was a social worker, and I was taken to a children’s home. All my physical needs were met, I was enrolled in a very respected school and was brought along to church every Sunday. At eighteen I graduated out of the care home having completed my A-level equivalent.

The children’s home could not continue to look after me when I turned 18, and I had no home or family to go back to. But luckily, this meant I was one of the first boys to join RAMP. Pursuit helped me to move into a flat of my own, and they mentored me through an incredibly important decision; what to do next with my life. I came to know God, and felt God calling me to study Theology in Bangalore. I have a part-time job to cover some of my own expenses, I am living independently in this new city, and I am devoted to my studies.

My hope and dream is to one day give identity and dignity to children who live a life on the streets like I once did.

RAMP has taught me to be more responsible over my own life, now that I have been given freedom and independence. It has helped me understand some of the realities of life. I have become more focused and patient. I am learning to manage the little finances I am given, so that one day I can manage the big amounts. There have been so many great moments so far, but the best was all our interactions with the UK team when they came to visit. My hope and dream is to one day give identity and dignity to children who live a life on the streets like I once did.

I would also like to thank those sponsors who are helping me in shaping the future of mine through your support and care and most importantly through your prayers. God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.