Sahil’s Story

Sahil, 10, loves coming to Buddha’s Smile School each morning. He feels lucky to be able to leave his family’s open-air ‘home’ under a Varanasi railroad bridge for the safe and cheerful.

BSS school where he is treated like an important person. But perhaps best of all, Sahil can eat a warm delicious meal each day with his classmates.

The underpass where Sahil lives with his family and other classmates’ families, trains roar overhead day and night. He often goes to sleep with a growling hungry stomach. To earn his parent’s approval, he often begs after school to get a few rupees for the family.

Recently, Sahil had what he thought was a pretty good idea. “Why not jump on one of the trains and beg for rupees from those people who are rich enough to buy a train ticket? If they can buy a ticket, they must have some extra,” he thought.

Bounding onto the train when the police weren’t looking, he soon discovered no one wanted a little unwashed boy on board and no one wanted to give him money. As the train roared toward Allahabad 80 miles away, people turned away from his outstretched hand and pleading eyes. Then Sahil thought of another idea; ‘why not steal a small thing or two from a passenger? That might solve my problem.”

What he didn’t count on was that being a thief would cause him a bigger problem.

When one of his victims realized Sahil was a thief, the passenger managed to hold Sahil until the train got to Allahabad and he could turn Sahil over to the police.

The police took Sahil into custody, Sahil sobbed that he was only stealing so that he wouldn’t be hungry. The police, not wanting to deal further with a young minor with no identification, put Sahil back on a train heading back to Varanasi. The next day, with a big story to tell, he returned to his beloved Buddha’s Smile School.

Most of our BSS students live in similar fragile circumstances. Each BSS student who manages to survive their home life with its lack of safety nets, have the possibility of dreaming for a better life. One with food every day, and a home with walls and roof.

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