Helping the Indian Railway Children

January 29, 2012  |   News

Children of the Orphanage

Caring for the local community, working with local people and businesses is important to us. For some people, the wider community is a real lifeline – a way of surviving. In a little town in Northern India a local Catholic Priest runs an orphanage housing the ‘forgotten children’ of the Railways, abandoned by their families and left to fend for themselves.

Our client, The Rooflight Company, asked us to assist with a reduced charge for sending some charitable items to the orphanage. After hearing more detail we decided to offer the export completely free of charge. When you read the story below, you’ll understand why…


Five years ago when a Catholic priest from Kerala took two street urchins from the Agra Cantt station into his protective care to rid them of the “drug-sniffing” habit, little did he know he would soon be a father to more than 50 kids who had made the railway platforms their permanent home

Father Akkara’s Navjeevan Bal Bhawan in Aligarh has 50-odd street children as inmates. “They come from varied backgrounds, different religions and are in the age group of six to 20. They are all studying in different schools like Lady Fatima, St Fedilis; some are in a Mathura school,” Father Jose told local press.

Rakesh, Shaheen, Farooqi, Gulzar and many others like them who know nothing about their backgrounds, laugh, chat, fight or watch TV, play computer games and study in a homely environment.

“Each day brings in a new challenge, I hardly get to sleep, someone’s always sick needing affectionate care. I try and make them comfortable and see they don’t miss anything in life and they respond with such warmth and love. We make no distinction of caste or religion here,” Father Jose explained.

When Father Jose started the centre for street children about five years ago, the Agra Archdiocese was cold and reluctant to help him. “But the new archbishop has seen the usefulness of the centre and the role it is playing. He has extended support and very soon we may have our own premises and better facilities,” Father Jose added.

Two years ago Aligarh’s district magistrate Bhuvnesh took the kids to see the popular film “Taare Zameen Par”. “It was a wonderful feeling to see an IAS officer mixing and chatting with the kids for three hours and watching the film together,” recalls senior Tamil journalist Shaffi Munna who operates from Aligarh.

“Every now and then we go to the railway stations in Aligarh, Mathura or Agra and look for abandoned kids or others who have no shelter or wherewithal,” Shaffi said.


“The idea came to me whenever I took a long distance train to visit Kerala or some other place. All through the journey kids would come and clean the compartment or sell something. When I talked with some of them, I learnt there were quite a few at every station,” Father Jose told IANS in an interview.

“When I returned I took a small house on rent and started with two-three kids. But help did not come my way and I was in fact transferred to Shillong. I returned after two years with more resolve and determination.



“People in Aligarh helped me raise some support and provided me with flour, dal, and other cooking materials free on a regular basis. Till date I keep getting free support from locals and it gives me a wonderful feeling of being of some use to society,” he said.

The senior-most boy Shaheen, from Bihar, said he does not want to return to his home as “I will not be able to pursue my education there.”

Dressed in a simple kurta-pyjama, Father Jose today has many admirers and supporters in Aligarh, but his dream is to set up a string of such shelters in all the districts so that street children not only get care and protection but also an opportunity to pursue their studies.


The Rooflight Company sent clothes and sporting equipment for the children. We would like to thank them for the opportunity to help such a wonderful cause.

We would also like to thank our partners Air India, UCH Logistics, X-Ray Logistics and OM Freight in New Delhi for their help in delivering this consignment.


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