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Journey from beneficiary to Hidden Hero

There were many troubles in my life, but Snehalaya supported me with more care than my family. I am thankful to them for this and helping me gain all of the necessary skills to find work in field I really enjoy.

Yakub was born in the village of Samanapur in Sangamner and has two sisters and a younger brother. Sadly, his alcoholic father and grandmother did not like girls at all and despite Yakub’s mother’s pleading, she and her children were kicked out of the house.

His mother sat at the bus stand with her children wondering what to do and finally accepted a lift from a man driving a vehicle to Dhule. When Yakub opened his eyes in the morning, he was in Kopargoan where he saw a brick kiln in front of him. With no other choice, no house to live in and no food to eat, his mother started working there. After five years of hard work in the kiln, his mother sent her children to school, with no slippers on their feet, slates in hand and only bhel for food they were finally receiving an education.

Yakub studied hard coming first in his class again and again but the standard of education and the children studying there was poor. His mother felt very bad that she couldn’t do more for her smart son. When a neighbor told her about Snehalaya, she immediately asked for our help in educating her children.

Yakub and his siblings were admitted to our Rehab Center. In the early days, the children didn't like Snehalaya and cried a lot, soon they started their new school and made new friends and they started to settle in and their bad habits picked up around the kilns started to subside. Yakub passed 10th standard with flying colours and started at Pemraj Sarda College. By this time, he was 18 and relocated to our GKN center, a short way from our Rehab Center in Islak. This meant riding a bicycle each day to reach our Rehab Center and the school buses that would take him to college. He completed his 12 standard with the help of our teachers and then completed a plumbing course in Pune while also working part-time. After qualifying he returned to Snehalaya to complete a degree in social work.

After graduating, he worked on an agricultural project to deliver fertiliser to farmers, using a bike he was able to buy through an EMI loan. He was then employed at our Agricultural Training Center (ATC) as an assistant, which he describes as, ‘the most important experience of my life’ where he learned many things. It also allowed him to financially support his sister's marriage. Yakub is still working at our ATC and also helping look after our over 18 children and we are really proud of everything he has achieved.

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