By Our Correspondent | Opening Doorz Editorial | December 22, 2017
“If it was not for Shelter Don Bosco, I would have had a scrap bag on my shoulder and would have been roaming the streets in Dadar… in the same dirty clothes looking for scraps to eat. My identity even today is Shelter Don Bosco, and I am forever grateful to the Priests and staff at Shelter who have been with me in this journey.”
— Sandeep Dobe, now 29-years-old, who was rescued by Shelter Don Bosco when he was eight years old.
Name: Sandeep Dobe
Place of birth: Buldhana district, Maharashtra
With Shelter Don Bosco, Wadala, from: 2002-2010
Family Background: Separated from his family when they had come to Mumbai to have his father treated for a serious ailment.
Sandeep works as an Uber and Ola service provider. He started off by driving for Shelter Don Bosco and then worked in the mechanics department at Skoda. Today, he owns three cars and has hired two drivers!
Sandeep and his family had come to Mumbai to seek treatment for his father who was suffering from a serious ailment. He was around eight years old at that time. At Dadar Railway Station, Sandeep got separated from his family. Possibly, they didn’t attempt even looking for him because they were terribly poor and did not have the means for his upbringing. Sandeep was left alone… on the streets!
He used to wander the streets of Mumbai and sleep at the railway platform at Dadar. Destiny, however, had other plans for him. The outreach staff of Shelter Don Bosco (on one of their regular trips to help street kids), found him and told him about the mela that takes place at the Shelter every month to give non-residents an access into their premises. Sandeep decided to attend the mela and thereafter he started living at Shelter.
Working towards transformation…
When Sandeep first came to Shelter in the year 2000, he felt lonely and missed the freedom and his friends that he had outside. He left Shelter after a while and went back to the streets. Two years later, longing for a secure and nurturing space, he was back! Soon, he started attending school and regular classes. He went on to complete his diploma in mechanics and started work as a driver for the home.
Saying thank you…
Even after he moved into his own residence, Shelter supported him and gave him rent for six months to help him save up his money so that he would not have to struggle to make ends meet. Through all his ups and downs, Shelter Don Bosco has been a constant support in his life.
A few years ago, Fr George Miranda helped Sandeep find his roots. He was overwhelmed when he met his mother (now 78-years-old) and younger brother. “It was an emotional moment,” reveals Sandeep. “I was seeing my mother after that fateful day when I was lost in Mumbai. I never thought I would ever be united with her ever again.” Sandeep built a house for his mother to give her a solid roof over her head and also takes care of his brother now. He informed them that Mumbai was now his home. His mother found a bride for him from the village and since the last three years, Sandeep is happily married and has a daughter.
Sandeep imparts driving skills to several young boys at Shelter. He asks them to pay for the fuel and lends them his cars for practice. Now, several of them have also bought their own cars and have started working for Uber and Ola as well. He hopes that these youngsters will understand the value of hard work and pass on the kind deed to others like them in the future.
If it was not for Don Bosco Shelter, I would have had a scrap bag on my shoulder and would have been roaming the streets in Dadar… in the same dirty clothes looking for scraps to eat. My identity even today is Shelter Don Bosco!
(From the book Forever Grateful to Don Bosco: Success Stories of the Young at Risk)