Sixteen-year-old Raju has faced many heart-breaking challenges in his young life. His father died when he was one. Raju’s mom struggled to provide for her two children, but they ended up moving in with their grandparents. A few years later, when he was 10 years old, Raju also lost his mom. It’s believed that both his parents died of AIDS. Raju and his older sister went to live with an uncle and his family. It was an added financial burden and Raju eventually had to drop out of school and work in the fields as a seasonal labourer to help earn family income.
A few years later, his sister moved out after she got married. Raju’s plight came to the attention of a local volunteer worker with Guardians of Hope (GOH). Both he and his sister were tested and were relieved to discover that they do not have the disease. Besides counselling and visits of encouragement, GOH gave a small grant of 4,000 rupees ($80 CDN) to help the family start a vegetable stand.
His aunt continues to run the small business and Raju hopes that one day soon he will be able to return to school. He would like to become a businessman, buying and selling rice and products. He offers words of encouragement and advice to others who face similar challenges: “Don’t get discouraged. There is this program that can help you…They have helped me so much and because of this I can help my uncle and he is taking good care of me. In the same way, this program is helping many other people like me.”