Ranjith Biyru remembers his childhood as a nightmare. He was five years old, and his brother barely two, when both parents died within the span of a year. All he remembers of them is that his father was an alcoholic who beat his mother. Ranjith also had an older sister. His grandmother Ramakka took up coolie work in the fields to take care of the children, accompanied by Ranjith’s sister. When his grandmother broke her leg, things became very difficult. They did not have enough food at home. They had to beg their neighbours or remain hungry. Ranjith’s paternal uncle took advantage of the situation and employed all three children in a restaurant in Hyderabad.
The children shared a room and were treated like bonded labourers. Ranjith worked the whole day cleaning utensils and mopping floors in the hotel, while his sister worked as a domestic maid for the same family. When their grandmother came to know about the pathetic situation of the children, she brought them home in tattered clothes. The Bala Vikasa women saw the plight of these children and began supporting Ramakka. They enrolled Ranjith and his brother in a boarding school, and helped to support medical expenses when Ranjith’s little brother fell ill with epilepsy.
Ranjith worked hard and secured high marks in 10th grade. He moved home and started college. He became the head of the family and went to work as a part time laborer in a cement pipe factory during the holidays. He supported his sister’s wedding and also helped with her medical expenses when his nephew was born. With Bala Vikasa’s and the community’s support, he and his brother are able to continue their education. Today Ranjith is in the final year of his Bachelor’s degree in Commerce and is very confident about his future. He plans to do an MBA. With a sense of purpose, Ranjith says, ‘It is because of Bala Vikasa that we are alive. I am sure that without them, we would never have gone to school. At present my priorities are to take care of my family and complete my studies. Once I get a job, I want to donate half of my salary to support orphans and poor children like Bala Vikasa.’