Raised in a financially stable family, AC Barua did not know the ugly nuances of life for a long time.
It was in 2007 when Assam was struck by a devastating flood that his perspective on life changed forever.
A volunteer in the rescue efforts, Barua encountered a distressed mother in her 80s and her disabled son trapped inside their collapsing house.
“Her eyes still haunt me. She had nowhere to go but to stay inside their collapsing home. We helped them to come out of the house and I decided to come back with help to relocate them. But when I did, she was nowhere to be found,” he says.
Overwhelmed by feelings of remorse, despair, and powerlessness, Barua made the decision to establish a sanctuary for abandoned women.
In 2011, he started an organisation called ‘Seneh’ to help old women abandoned by their families or stricken by poverty.
Fondly called ‘deuta’, which means father in Assamese, Barua is a retired IAF officer who served the country for several years.
“Most of the women under our roof are from the streets, and we usually get phone calls with information from people. We visit the place and rescue the woman once we get the information,” says Jutika who works with Barua.
After getting the necessary medical help, the organisation tries to contact the family of the rescued.
“More often than not, the families refuse to take them back. In such cases, we shelter them in this home for as long as they live,” she explains.
So far, the captain has rescued, and given medical, shelter and food to over 60 women from in and around Guwahati.
For his work, Barua was recognised and presented with the ‘Assam Gaurav’ award.
“These women have completely changed my life; I have a different perspective on life now. Even at 80, life never stops teaching you new lessons,” says Barua.