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In the driver's seat

Updated: Sep 6, 2023

Sanju was just four years old when he was transferred to Snehalaya from an orphanage

in Sangli. As there were no records of his birth or family we named him Sanju N K (Not Known). Until his arrival here his medication regime had been irregular and few health investigations had been conducted. He is HIV+ and was very weak and suffering with multiple opportunistic infections. We immediately worked on getting his health back on the right track,

admitting him to our Caring Friends Hospital. While the hospital staff conducted investigations and treatments, our caregivers ensured his mental wellbeing and proper nutrition.

Within the space of two to three months, Sanju gained weight, looked better and started to shed

the negativity and depression he had arrived with. He was taking his medicine regularly, eating healthy meals and joining in with sports. The previously introvert Sanju also began making a

few friends. We admitted him to our English Medium School, but Sanju struggled with his studies, lagging behind and facing difficulties in understanding the conventional syllabus taught in school. Noticing his challenges, his teachers and principal encouraged him to attend school regularly, paying him special attention and implementing techniques to help him

understand the subjects. But Sanju simply did not have the drive to focus on academics.

He did have one passion. He was often seen playing with toy cars or vehicles and his drawing books were filled with cars, jeeps, buses and trucks. As soon as the last bell of the school rang, Sanju would immediately visit our parking space. Looking at the different vehicles, understanding their mechanics, names and brands became his hobby. Whenever Ashok, our service department head, asked him if he wanted to become a driver, Sanju enthusiastically said yes with a broad smile.

Sanju struggled through his SSC board exams but with support from his teachers and friends he scraped through with a pass. He still wanted to be a driver, but at 17 he couldn’t join a driving school or get a license. We asked our services department to let him be an observer on our service vehicle which delivers food to our Himmatgram project. Sanju became a regular passenger sitting alongside the driver observing all of his techniques.

As soon as he reached 18, we were able to admit him to driving school but he faced another hurdle. Being an orphan, he did not have documents including a birth certificate. We managed the process and Sanju successfully completed his driving test and has begun working as an

apprentice in our vehicle department. Sanju is a great example of how to convert a passion into a profession and is expert in driving all of our vehicles from our tractors to ambulances and goods trucks, still with a huge smile on his face.

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