Tears run freely for all of us, but when tears are committed towards action and reform, only then can we start building a world where fewer tears are shed
One is quite used to tears: Tears flowing in sympathy, maybe empathy, even pity. They flow freely as scenes of horror, sadness unfold, but when tears build, they then move into the area of creating something that will see that those same tears flow no more. Such is what you experience when you meet Mr Vijay Karande.
His tears flow freely as he tells you about a beggar he saw dying by the roadside, a beggar woman carrying a wounded child, street children gobbling down their last morsel fighting with starving dogs for food, looking hungrily for more.
His tears flow when he talks of a pet dog, a canine he picked up sixteen years ago, who now sits on his lap, lovingly licking his face, and he, smiles at her, his Fluffy, neither chiding it nor pushing it away.
His tears flow: But those same tears moved children off the road into classrooms, those same tears built a home, nay three homes for beggar children, those same tears lifted elderly beggars from streets of cruel Mumbai and placed them in shelters where they receive love and care.
His tears didn’t just fall, they built: Care and compassion were translated to concrete cement and the Social Development Center was formed. A lesson for many of us.
It was over a decade ago, that Vijay Kandare saw a woman begging on the platform of a suburban station in Mumbai, carrying a eleven month old child with an open wound that was being consistently scraped by the woman to keep the blood flowing to evoke pity and bring in alms.
His heart immediately went to the little child, but what was his horror when the next day he saw the same woman with another child and this time on following her found her paying someone so she could hire these little children to help her beg better! He found out that these children were being hired out at Rs 100/- to Rs 125/- a day.
These poor children, he found were returned to their parents after the day was done. Tears came to his eyes, and from those tears sprang the idea of Dreamz Homes — A rehabilitation cum recreational home for street children and child beggars.
Enough tears have flowed and more centers have sprung up, all over the city of Mumbai, providing those same children schools to study in, bhalwadi’s to be cared for in and homes to stay in. Kandare with his Organization, the Social Development Center continuously has done extensive research and makes people aware of the situation that beggars are forced to be in.
Tears run freely for all of us, but when tears are committed towards action and reform, when those tears work towards change, then and only then can we start building a world where fewer tears are shed, because the lives of the poor are actually being changed for the better.
The city salutes Vijay Kandare for showing us that tears can build.
Robert Clements is a journalist and widely published newspaper columnist. His column Bob’s Banter is published in over 30 newspapers and magazines