…Boy can I help you?
It’s cold and you’ve nowhere to sleep,
There’s a place I can take you to
He walks on, doesn’t look back
He pretends he can’t hear her
Starts to whistle as he crosses the street
Seems embarrassed to be there…
By Martin D’Souza | Opening Doorz Editorial | January 09, 2018
She’s a familiar figure outside Railway Stations and public spaces looking for that child who might be internally crying for help. By now, she is tuned to reading the body language of a child, be it a boy or a girl, approaching them with the singular purpose of radically changing their lives, which is going only one way—downhill. Once the ice is broken, the kids feel safe around her. They begin chatting like long lost friends. That’s the impact she has on them.
Meet Grace John popularly known as ‘Gracie Mummy’ by hundreds of street children who she has rescued in the 19 years of her outreach work which she has been doing for Shelter Don Bosco. “I had the desire to work for street children,” reveals Grace John speaking about the passion she puts in her work, which most may find foolhardy. But Grace knows that her time spent on the streets has put many children from the streets into a secure place at Shelter and from there propelled them to a career and life which they would never have imagined. Most children she has rescued acknowledge that had not ‘Gracie Mummy’ tapped them on the shoulder, their life would have been on the streets!
“If I were to put a number on the kids in whose life I would directly have had a hand in ensuring they were guided to the right path, it would be around 30 girls and over a 100 boys,” reveals Grace when probed for figures. “It gives me great satisfaction to see some of the kids, who are now grown up and married with kids of their own, come up to me and express their gratitude whenever I am out on the streets looking to rescue other kids.”
Eight hours is the minimum Grace puts in her ‘passion’ but on most days, she does not know where the time has passed by. “Time is not an issue for me. If the kids need me, I am there with them,” she reveals. Thankfully she has a supportive family and even her son, Samson, helps her out in her Outreach Programme.
Nineteen years is a long time to be engaged in an emotionally draining job. Ask her if she has ever thought of quitting and she is quick in her response: “This is what I love to do. I get motivated when I see the boys happy and their needs being fulfilled. Nothing can compare to the satisfaction I get when I see a smile on their face.”