If one wants to understand the origin and development of Tojo’s Snehalayam, one has to try and understand the life of Tojo Sunny, the founder of this children’s home and orphanage, who died in 2015. The children’s home is now lead by Leela and her team.
Tojo was a chubby man with glasses, whom you could hear passionately playing tabla or giving his all to get the ball in a volleyball game in the past. These two pictures have one thing in common: there were constantly little kids to be seen running around Tojo’s legs or hanging off his arms – because Tojo was also friend, teacher and father of more than 25 children in Tojo’s Snehalayam. The last few month the children lost with Tojo a father but Leela and her team try to fill the gap and to continue the work of Tojo Sunny by giving the children a home, where they a loved and have a chance to get a good education – and a real chance in life.
We asked Tojo what made him take his decision to dedicate his life to supporting and helping others, he pointed to one situation that gave him the final push to pursue and truly live the Christian philosophy of ‘loving thy neighbour’ which he had long felt: Christmas Eve 1995.
That evening Tojo had been enjoying a fine meal in a restaurant with his friends and had packed the remains in order to give them to a homeless young man they had seen in front of the restaurant. As Tojo was trying to give him the prepared package, the man protested and exclaimed: Look at me! I have two ears, two eyes, two arms and two legs. I can look after myself. Give the food to someone that really needs it!
Overwhelmed by so much selflessness, Tojo decided to give his life a turnaround and from now on attend to the deserving poor and needy, those, which are rejected and ostracised by Indian society and politics. Tojo briefly considered becoming a priest, but then decided against this path because to him it demanded in the first place a service to God and only secondly a service to humanity. Nonetheless, Tojo still very strongly embodies the Christian notions of ‘loving and serving your neighbour’ and mercy.
Almost still a child himself, Tojo began – at the age of only 22 – taking care of street children. He never stopped carrying for others before he died.
The destiny of many Indian kids is cruel. Many kids leave school without a diploma and are forced into child labour in order to support their family. In many cases the parents do not even send their kids to school in the first place and instead force them into a tough life of suffering and neglect. Work in rural areas is harder to find and more difficult so many children flee to the cities, where they meet with an urban culture, which is foreign to them and does not hold a place for inexperienced children.
Even though there is an official law against child labour it is extremely prevalent in Indian cities. Official reports estimate 17 million child workers whereas the dark figures of unreported cases exceed 50 million. Many children end up on the streets, collect trash, start begging or become criminal, form gangs and often end up in jail.The true number of these nameless children seems infinite and their life is a nightmare.
It is with great sadness and deep grief that we mourn the death of Tojo, our great father and director of Snehalayam, renamed Tojo’s Snehalayam in his honour and memory. Read More here!