Moitrayee Banerjee and her team have made it their life’s mission to uplift the lives of countless homless children. They have rescued 110+ children from various parts of West Bengal.
"We have been trying to stay true to the name of our organization, ‘Maha Jiban’. Everybody has a life, but we strive to make it better for them. When we started with this mission, we were shocked to see how many children have been deprived of a happy childhood - their world is covered in darkness. Our mission has been to uplift these children from these dire conditions and give them a better future. We don’t consider this as work, this is something we love doing, it's our passion, it gives us contentment", says Moitrayee.
In Seoraphulli area of West Bengal, they found many orphans- some of their mothers had died and their fathers had remarried- leaving them neglected. For months these kids would roam around on railway platforms, they don’t go back home. Their parents are hardly concerned, their step mothers don't want them in their house, there is no one to look out for them.
"These kids end up getting addicted to drugs. We saw so many kids aged around 10-12 years old, sitting at the station’s ticket counter and doing drugs. We went and asked them, ‘why are you all doing drugs?’. They said, ‘didi, we don’t get food to eat. Inhaling this dendrite makes us sleepy. We do drugs, so we don’t feel hungry.’ I keep thinking of what they told me that day, it just breaks my heart", Moitrayee says with tears in her eyes.
"We took these kids to rehab and I am happy to say, these kids are doing very well today. After helping these kids, I wanted to help many more kids like them who needed us. Then we started going to different railway stations and saw so many more children who were in need of help. We saw so many small kids abandoned by parents. I saw them picking up mud from the street and eating it, picking up leaves from bushes and eating it. I cried a lot that day. I had to do something for them."
That’s when Moitrayee and her team started teaching these kids in a temporary shed, they don’t even have a classroom. Initially they were not keen on coming, but once they started providing them with food, the kids started coming regularly. These are not little kids, they are 12-13 year old teens, who have never learned to read and write, and are ashamed to go to schools. They feel they’ll be made fun of and even the schools don’t want to take them in.
"Many such kids are there in neighboring villages, who want to go to school, who need our help, whose lives we want to make better, but we can’t because we don’t have the money or resources for a shelter home. Where do we accommodate so many of them? We really need a place for these kids, where they can stay from morning to night, and their day will be filled with activities and learning. So many children are in need of a home. Railway platforms are an unsafe place for them, like an 8-year-old was gangraped on the railway platform. We want to save many more like her, but we don’t have a place of our own"
Team Mahajiban aim to do a lot more going forward in the coming years. They do not plan to stop what they've started. They have made tremendous progress in just a year, imagine what they can do if they continue doing their work.
"We really don’t know how we can arrange for so much money...to build a shelter for these kids, where they can grow up in a healthy atmosphere. We need your support to help build a shelter home for these children."