Bangalore: “The time I had spent in the prison showed me hell. I was surrounded by rowdies and fell seriously ill,” T. Raja, lovingly known as ‘Auto Raja’ recalls while he was jailed at the age of 16. Instead of breaking down, he vowed to serve the needy.
Raja has rescued over 10,000 homeless people from the streets of Bengaluru in the last two decades since he is released. He runs the New Ark Mission in Doddagubbi village near Bengaluru.
The mission’s Home is a home to 720 destitute people, reported The Hindu. Raja, a native of Vaniyambadi in North Tamil Nadu was disowned by his family for his anti-social activities as a teenager. He started to live on the streets and indulged in stealing.
“I had pawned my mother’s silk sarees and her ‘mangalasutra’ to fulfil my craving for alcohol,” Raja said. After he came across all the atrocities at the prison, he decided to proceed in life as an autorickshaw driver.
“But I could feel the pain of people lying uncared for on the street as I had gone through all that once. One day, I decided to take one of them home,” he said. He came to know how it feels after helping someone when he helped a man whose wounds were eaten away by maggots. His life goals became even more lucid.
He started constructing a 3,000 sq. ft building on a half-acre land with the help of donors and volunteers.
He incurs an expenditure of nearly Rs. 11 lakh per month, most of which is donated. He is called ‘daddy’ by the inmates, Raja is today working towards a goal.
“My aim is to make our country ‘Swachh Bharat’ in the true sense. It can be achieved when we find a home for the destitute and give their life some purpose,” Raja told.
Raja, who bagged several awards and recognitions from celebrities and TV shows, said he wants to establish home for the destitute in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana if the governments support him. “All I need is uninterrupted water supply and a decent open space, where we can engage the inmates in activities such as gardening and agriculture,” he told.
His next plan is to procure sweeping trucks and uniforms and engage 100 inmates to clean the streets of Bangalore.
“This would be a step forward in realising his dream,” he said.
On facing the challenges of running the home, Raja said: “It is far from easy to be a 24-hour caregiver for the uncared lot, a majority of whom are mentally unstable. Many of them are on their death bed, and we have to ensure a dignified end for them. We try our best to fulfil their last wish, some ask for chicken kebabs, biryani, a glass of cola, or simply want to watch a film. Thankfully, I have a dedicated team of 35 staff members, who include my wife and four children,” he said. “Our country needs a Mother Teresa in every city to root out poverty and suffering,” he added.