Rajesh has had a harrowing childhood until he came to the orphanage. Rajesh was 7 years old when his father passed away. Life is hard, but especially so when it’s a woman who has to bring the children up with no help from the state, nor family.
Rajesh has 2 older sisters. The mother remarried soon after to give the children some stability. Problems developed soon after. At a tender age of 8, Rajesh ran away from home. He could not accept the new man as his step father.
He would roam the streets in Kathmandu, living rough amongst the down and outs. He became very streetwise. He knew every landmark in town. He was brought back home by the police on several occasions, but he would run away again the following day.
In the end, out of desperation to see her son safe, the mother placed him in the orphanage. Rajesh has never looked back Rajesh is the oldest of all the children there. He is now 12 years old.
He is the big brother who looks out for his younger siblings. Children grow up fast in that environment. He leads them to do the morning exercise and prayer. He prepares the hot drink and breakfast for the volunteers who are staying there. He takes his responsibility very seriously. Its only when everything is done, then he will go down to have his breakfast.
Rajesh never talks about his past . His mother comes once a year to see him.To see how he behaves with his mother is quite heart rendering. For the first half an hour it is as though he was not there. Looking straight ahead and not responding to his mother’s talking, one wonders what was going through his mind!
Anger? Apathy? Rejection?
On one occasion, Uma explored with the mother the feasibility of having Rajesh home with her. The mother said it is not possible because the whole family (husband and wife with the 2 teenaged sisters) cook, eat, live and sleep in just one rented room.
Rajesh will not have the care and space he is used to. One wonders what happens to all the pent up feeling, and how would he learn to let go of his angst, anger and the sense of rejection before they damage him for good. One feels almost protective of him, a child who has grown up before his time in every sense Rajesh’s story is a common one amongst the families who are in the lower socio- economic class.
Predominantly it is the mothers who are the bread winner in the family.It is the mothers who are involved and interested in their children’s education. It became glaringly clear when the charity asked to meet up with the parents regarding the sponsorship program for their children.
Since the younger days, Rajesh has grown up to be a delightful young man, a son any parent will be proud of .He is a role model for his younger siblings. He is very helpful in and around the orphanage, tackling tasks that required a man to do.
At 5’ 9”, he is an unusual sight for a Nepalese teenager, rather tall in a country of small people. He studies hard. He wants to be a police officer when he leaves school, a very commendable profession.