Like many other places in Vidarbha, 18-year-old Mohan Prabhu Kale’s village, Siradhan in Osmanabad district of Maharashtra, was also affected by drought again this year. He had studied till Class 7 in the village school. But then his education came to a standstill.
The three acres of land that Mohan’s father owned yielded nothing at all the third year in a row. And the loans were making their life even more miserable. Mohan’s mother had to walk at least 2 kms everyday to get water. Some days she would not even get any water after walking for miles.
Unable to see the pain of his starving family, Mohan’s father decided to head towards Mumbai to find some work that could get them at least one meal a day. The family sold their land and house to repay the loans and came to Mumbai, empty handed, in 2014.
“Many years ago, my father had fallen under a train and lost one leg. I was very young then so I don’t remember much about this incident, but I remember him working in our farm with just one leg. My uncles helped him. But here in Mumbai, he could not get any work. He begs on the streets now,” said Mohan in a low voice when asked about his father.
Mohan, his mother, and two older brothers sell flowers and garlands at the Teen Haat Naka Signal in Thane.
“I like it here. We have to sell flowers in the scorching sun or even when it is raining. Sometimes, if we don’t earn enough for a meal, we have to beg too. But we don’t starve here like we did in my village,” says Mohan.
Four months ago, Mohan’s life changed again. He heard about Signal Shala, a school that operates from a shipping container under the Teen Haat Signal flyover in Thane. Mohan studies in Class 8 now, back in school at the age of 18 after a long gap.
He gets up in the morning, sells garlands at the signal for an hour and then rushes to school. After school finishes at 4 pm, it’s peak business hours again so he goes back to the signal and sells flowers and garlands till 9 in the evening. Once he has earned enough for a meal, he goes back home and does his school homework for the next day.
“I don’t know what will become of me. But I will become something if I study… right?” he asks.
You can help keep Mohan’s hope alive. Donate to India’s first registered ‘Signal School’ today, and help Mohan and 35 other kids living on Mumbai’s streets get a shot at a better life through education.
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Read about Signal Shala here: India’s First Signal School, Where Street Kids Study in a Shipment Container Under a Flyover!