He was just 11 years old when he joined Snehasadan in 1966. He was brought up in the Kajuwadi home. He studied up to SSC and completed a course in welding. He then married Shakuntala, also a Snehasadan child, in 1987. He became the house parent of House no.1 in 1994 where he and his wife and two daughters, now care for 10 homeless children.
Arvind K Malade
“I came to Snehasadan from Vile Parle station when I was 14 years old. I had lost my parents when I was a little boy and I was put into an orphanage in Pandharpur. Later I moved to another at Vile Parle. I didn’t like the life in the orphanage so I ran away and wandered about in the city living at stations. I maintained myself by selling scrap. After three years of nomadic life I was brought to Snehasadan. For the first time in my life I experienced someone caring for me. It was nice not to worry about every meal. I really liked the smug feeling of security and also realized its value. The wonderful people at Snehasadan taught me to retain that security. I learned to work hard and stopped living by my wits.”
“At Snehasadan I learnt the lesson of love. I learnt that love means freedom. Freedom to do what one likes so long as it does not interfere with the freedom of others. The result is self-discipline. This is freedom with responsibility. The responsibility makes one feel good and gives one a sense of belonging.
At Snehasadan there is an abundant and steady supply of love. This was something which I had never known in life. Since everybody was so supportive, I wanted to prove myself worthy of this love. I was not very keen about studies and was a slow learner, but with the help of my house parents and encouragement from other boys I passed my SSC exams. I then became a trainee mechanic and also took a driving licence.
Today, I drive a tempo and hope that some day I will own a tempo. I can never forget what I learnt at Snehasadan. That is why I keep in touch with the house parents and other staff members there.”
His is a classic case where Snehasadan helped a child trace his family. Paklu had run away from home 10 years before he was reunited with his family. Here the Snehasadan staff member narrates the scene:
Paklu is going out to find his family. As he is going home after 10 years he is afraid that he will not recognise any of his family members. From Tata Nagar station we get all the details of Paklu’s address and after double checking all the landmarks with Paklu we are sure we are on the right track.
Once there used to be a railway track near his house. Now this has disappeared. So we hired a jeep and headed for Bada Jumada. As we pass by, slowly the memories of his village comes back to him. The name of his village is Marga Phada. But the terrain is hilly and it is getting dark.
Paklu suddenly looks like he is in familiar surroundings. On the way a lady passes by. We stop on the roadside and inquire about Paklu’s father and brother. No answer. Then we ask about Dollie, Paklu’s sister. The man we are speaking to suddenly shouts out to her. The lady who passed by was Paklu’s sister.
Dollie recognizes Paklu who has grown so tall and bursts into tears. She hugs him and leads the way to their grandmother’s house. Paklu’s grandmother observes the grown Paklu while Dollie excitedly informs them, “This is our Paklu.” The grandmother breaks down, “We thought you were dead.” Though he is happy to be loved by his grandmother, Paklu fails to recognize her.
“We want to be sure if this is my son,” says his father and asks Paklu to close his eyes. He touches Paklu’s eyes and left eyebrow, looking for a dent below the eyebrow. Sure enough there is a dent. He hugs Paklu. “This is my son,” he cries. “We thought you were dead.”
Paklu had left the family at the age of six and found his family at the age of 16 years while studying in the IXth standard. He returned to Snehadadan and after completing his SSC with 79% he rejoined his family.