Millions of people all over the world live their life in poverty. They grow up witnessing the distress; while many people feel the need to help these underprivileged, but it is always only few who go that extra mile. T Raja Auto Raja is one such person who dedicated his life to provide succour to the underprivileged. This is a story about how a sinner turned into a saint for many. The Logical Indian had a conversation with T Raja Auto Raja who is an auto driver and a co-founder of New Ark Mission of India. Here are some of the excerpts of the interview.
Please tell us about your childhood.
My father was telephone linesman. I never knew what a parental love is and developed bad habits like stealing, drinking and gambling at a very young age because of the bad company. I also ran away from my house and came to Chennai to live on streets for two years. Everything in my life was meaningless. I would extort money from students and was expelled from the school. Roaming aimlessly and stealing was my job and then I decided to work to support my basic needs. I started driving auto-rickshaw and also served as a bodyguard.
How did such radical change occur?
People had some negative vibe from me. I was taken to a prison and after spending around twenty days in the dingy confines of prison. It was the most helpless time. I made a deal with God and said that I get off this prison, then, in turn, I will lead an honest man’s life. This was the turning point of my life, and I don’t know if the prayers were heard or not but my fever turned down and my parents came to take me home. I kept my word and got married, borrowed some money from parents and started driving auto-rickshaw.Travelling around the city, I would see people on the road, many destitute spending their days without proper clothes in chilly winters. I was moved and decided to form New Ark Mission.
How does New Ark Mission help people?
I founded New Ark Mission in 1997. It would pain me to see people lying uncared on the road. I felt helpless, so one fine day I decided to take on of them home. I would bathe and shave them and clean up their wounds. Nobody supported me in my endeavours. Also, my neighbour would humiliate me for bringing these people. But this not deters me and then I opened a home for the destitute. I started one at Kavalbyrasandra, Bangalore with thirteen people who started calling me Auto Raja. My wife and children would take care of these people when I would be away from home. Even though there was a dearth of money, I just could not let these people go as they had no one except me.
How did you sustain them financially?
I have auto-rickshaw, and the earning goes to them. My wife, children and I live with them in the same house. With time, many communities came and offered help. Many people donated money to feed the residents and arranged for their medical care. We live like a big happy family.
How do you come to know about such people now?
So when I am driving an auto, I see people wanting help and I bring them to my place. Sometimes, police inform me on the most occasions, and I bring them here. Everybody here irrespective of age calls me Daddy! It makes me really happy.
How are the conditions changed in last twenty years?
Things have changed for better now. Now we have a doctor who has volunteered to visit us and check on the people. We have also managed an ambulance to pick up the homeless people from streets. Also we work closely with police who help us identify and bring destitute to us.
Any message for our readers?
Oh yes, I wish to tell them that even though Mother Teresa was born in Yugoslavia, she came to our country and served the destitute and she also died here. Then why can’t we people serve each other in our country? Let’s follow her footstep and help others out.
T Raja Auto Raja has been conferred with “NDTV Man of The Year” and the “CNN-IBN Real Heroes” award.
The Logical Indian salutes such a noble soul and hopes that people extend their help to him. The readers may visit the website here.