Twelve years after he left his home in Assam and came to Kerala, Sanjay was reunited with his elder brother in Kochi.
When Deepak, the elder brother, came to Kochi as a migrant worker two months back, his aim was to keep searching for Sanjay. Deepak used to share the story of his brother, who was taken to Kerala to work as a child labour, with local co-workers.
Piecing together details given by Deepak, local workers told him about Janaseva Sisubhavan at Aluva, near Kochi, where hundreds of street children and child labourers had been rehabilitated.
Deepak went to Janaseva Sisubhavan and narrated his story to its chairman Jose Maveli. Mavali figured the missing brother could be Sanjay and called him to the Sisubhavan, where the brothers were reunited.
In the years of separation, Sanjay made a new life in Kerala. Though he came as a child labourer, Sanjay was rehabilitated, enrolled in a school and got a job at a hotel in Kochi.
Sanjay came to Kochi 12-years-ago through an agent who used to supply children to work in hotels and shops. “My father was a drunkard. I wanted to leave home due to poverty. An agent named Samad took me to Kochi and handed me over to a poultry store owner,’’ recalls Sanjay. The store owner paid him little but the agent collected his wages.
His life changed when local police cracked the whip on people employing child labour and fearing arrest, the store owner let go of Sanjay. A worker at the poultry store told him about Janaseva Sisubhavan where activists adopted him and enrolled him in a school. “I have studied till Class X. At the initiative of Jose Maveli, I got the job at the hotel two years back,’’ said Sanjay, now aged 24. Sanjay said he never longed for his family, adding, “I have forgotten the name of my father. Now, after meeting my brother, I want to go home.’’
Sanjay hails from Sulung, a village located by the Brahmaputra near Kaliabor in Nagaon district of Assam. He has six siblings and his father Dhan Bahadur Chetri is a farmer who also rears cattle. Sanjay received early education at an Assamese medium school, but says, “I can’t speak Assamese or Nepali now, but can speak fluent Malayalam as well as Hindi.”
With ENS, Guwahati