Take a moment to meet Shibumon and Elizabeth – a couple who have come a long, long way from their home in Kerala to live among a marginalized community of snake charmers in the outskirts of Delhi, so that they can give the children there a chance at life! Read a story that will take your breath away and restore your faith in humanity!
Let me introduce you to Blessy, she is the sixth ‘child’ of Shibumon & Elizabeth, and sister to Blesson and ‘Blessy’ (the couple’s biological kids) and Pooja, Reetu and Reshma. Till a few days back, she was just another slum kid, abandoned by her mother even before she started speaking and kicked out of her home (if you call it so) by her relatives. Her father, a truck driver, who is rarely at home, could do nothing but witness this with teary eyes. A seven-year old kid, with dreams which she never thought would ever realize..she is Blessy.
I request you to take a moment and think about your childhood and that of Blessy’s. She is another normal kid who passed through abnormal circumstances. Today, Shibumon and Elizabeth are trying to provide her with a life and help her realize her simple dream to live.
The hero and heroine of my post is this young couple. You can read about them here: The team behind Bharat Seva Samity – and their efforts to change the lives of the kids in Mandi gaon (on the border of Delhi & Gurgaon). Honestly, I don’t find myself eligible to speak about them.
When a good friend, a college senior and a serial entrepreneur, Vivek Jhorar, first asked me to join him to Mandi gaon – all i thought was about my negative bank balance and the amount i could donate to another NGO. But, hearing about this couple’s 13 odd year struggle to educate the kids of Sapera Basti (i prefer to call it Mandi gaon) was an eye-opener.
With a ‘more than enough’ five digit salary, i often cursed myself for the career blunders i made in my life. And here, Shibu and Elizabeth are sitting in their modest one-bedroom home in Mandi gaon, telling me about their dreams to bring change in the lives of these kids, kids who otherwise would end up doing menial works or maybe, become anti-social elements. Shibu jokingly tells, “I can only follow Madam’s (Elizabeth) order” and laughs.
I looked at the kids and they reminded me of an orphan who once asked me about my family and asked me to explain how my parents love me. He was sitting on the wall of an orphanage staring at mothers walking their kids, back home from school. I was a kid then and i cried while cycling back home. That day at Mandi gaon, i was a 27 year old and I silently wept while driving back home.
My learned friends speak about change, blame the system, call Delhi a rape capital..while having their share of imported alcohol, in an AC room. Today, snake lovers are asking the folks of Sapera Basti (meaning: the basti or slum of Snake Charmers) to stop doing the only job they know. They want to protect snakes, and i hope they do – but they should also spare a thought for how folks in this slum will survive, including the kids.
And, here is a couple who left behind everything and everyone they have, traveled kilometers and days (it still takes almost 3 days to reach Delhi from Kerala), to ‘act’ for a change. I often wonder why Shibu wants to do this. He could pack his bags and move back to his parents’ house any day. It is his parents who support him and his cause, financially.
But Shibu wants to stay and be the change catalyst. His short term and long term goal is to find the right education for the other 42 kids whom he and his wife teach from their one room school (you can call it a shack) in Sapera Basti. Unlike the criticizing lot from my social circle and the wildlife activists trying to stop the slum-dwellers from performing the only job they know, Shibu and his wife wants to cultivate a young generation of civilized kids.
Every day, he struggles to meet the financial needs of his family and his mission. Every day he tries to educate the elders of Sapera Basti to take up a new and noble profession. Every day, he does what he and his wife have been doing for the past 13 years..to bring change in others’ lives. To spread colours in otherwise dark minds.
I am lucky that i had to travel only a few kilometres from where i dwell, few thousand kilometres from where i was born, to meet a couple who deserves a salute more than most people i have known in my life.