Formerly a pavement dweller, the 16-year-old was taken in by an NGO that helped him kick his drug habit and focus on academics instead, eventually resulting in his first-class score
Ten years ago, this teenager had no parents, no home, and no idea of how much his life would change in the coming decade. For yesterday, when the SSC results were announced, he learned that he had earned an impressive 66.4 per cent that belied his past as a pavement dweller and drug abuser.
The teenager scored 66.4 per cent in the SSC exams and is a hardworking student now, a far cry from his days as a pavement dweller and drug abuser.
Panchi Tirki (16) was the youngest in a family of four that hailed from Jharkhand. Both his parents were alcoholics and met an early end, leaving him and his older brother destitute. The brothers, aged around four and five at this time, spent a few days living at Ranchi railway station, before they boarded a train to Mumbai.
The duo would sleep on the footpaths and took to begging on the trains or selling whatever scrap they could find, to make ends meet. Panchi soon developed addictions — sniffing glue, smoking tobacco and hashish and drinking alcohol.
But his life began to turn around when he began attending the day care centre run by the rehabilitation organisation, Support. “He would attend the day care centre near CST railway station and was gradually motivated and convinced to join the detoxification treatment. He was admitted to Support at the tender age of six for the detoxification and rehabilitation programs,” said Sujata Ganega, director of Support, the rehabilitation centre.
No one from his family had ever finished school, and the siblings are both first-generation students, with the older brother clearing SSC last year and Panchi following this year. At Support, Panchi was brought out of his shell by teachers, who would hold classes every evening. He began to attend Madhyamik Vidya Mandir, a BMC-run school in Santacruz (East), and began to develop an interest in extra-curricular activities, such as dance, drawing and painting as well.
Buoyed by his new life, Panchi soon began to work hard at academics as well. For the SSC exams, he would regularly sit and study with his friends from school. “I did not attend any tuitions, but studied early in the morning every day, from 5 am to 7 am,” said the teen, ecstatic with his first-class performance.