A ‘Slum Dog’s’ struggle

My name is Vijay and I’ve been asked by Ayya Yeshe to write a story about my life. I am the middle child of my parents. I am 17. I have two brothers and we live in a slum. Our house 10mtr by 5mtr and we have a kitchen, bedroom and a living room. Our TV is broken because my father smashed it. My father has smashed many things in our house and destroyed a lot of happiness in our family. He was forced to leave university and get a bad job as he needed to support his family and many of his dreams were crushed. Then he married my mother when he was 22 and my mother was 17.

My father is not a bad person, even though I often feel angry at him. He has just given up on life. That’s why he drinks. He even broke my mother’s arm. Unfortunately domestic violence is very strong in the slum where I come from.

My mother is very hard-working. She gathers the other women in our community around to make sari embroidery. She is the leader of the group, and seems very happy and independent, but she has to hide her bruises. Most people in the slum work hard, but due to lack of education and the availability of good jobs, they never make enough to get ahead. The good thing is now me and my brother are big enough to stop my father beating my mother, but that means that one of us always has to be around the house when my father is there.
I am almost completely deaf. It took my parents quite some time to realise this. They just thought I was a bad child. I used to misbehave in school because I couldn’t hear the teacher and I didn’t want to admit I had a problem. Most of the time in my school, the teachers never turned up anyway. I can just hear enough to communicate and speak.

“I thought that life was full of misery and had no meaning.”

I had nothing to look forward too as I couldn’t study well and get a good job. That was before I met Ayya Yeshe and the social workers of the Bodhicitta Foundation. I learnt about how to calm my mind and not get so angry. I learnt that there are kind people who care about people who suffer. I met other young people who are on a good path and are recovering from bad circumstances. I even got to see (going around with Ayya Yeshe) that there are people even worse off than my family. At least my father and my brother have jobs.
“I was thinking of joining the Mafia” before I joined Ayya Yeshe. Every young man in my slum who had aspirations to do great things and make a lot of money either does it through doing well in his exams or through crime. All the young guys around me were a bad influence and I didn’t know that there was another way. In the slum girls get married at 18 because their parents can’t afford to educate them and they are worried they’ll get molested. Girl’s often can’t work, and the family can’t afford to feed them.
I’m really grateful that Ayya Yeshe has shown me a good path in life. She has sponsored me to go to a college for the hearing impaired and now I’m learning sign language and heaps of good things. I’m lucky that I can hear a bit more than most deaf people. I sometimes help run the youth group with Sister Yeshe and it makes me happy.
“It means a lot to have people who show me genuine friendship.”
It has given me the courage to try new things and create a better life for myself.
Thank you Bodhicitta Foundation.

* Names and photos may have been changed for privacy and safety reasons.