Arjun is an incredibly brave 10 year old boy from Mumbai, India. He goes to school every day and at the end of the day, attends a Hope for Children-supported after-school group where he receives extra support with his studies.
Arjun used to live with his mother, Shalini, who loves him dearly, in the slums of Mumbai until she made the decision when he was younger to send him to live with a friend for his own safety.
Before Arjun was born, Shalini lived happily with her mother until a family dispute forced her out of her childhood home. With nowhere to go and very little money, she was befriended by someone who she quickly grew to trust.
Just a few weeks later, this 'friend' sold her to a brothel owner and so started her life as a prostitute, regularly exposed to physical and sexual abuse on a daily basis. She became addicted to alcohol and drugs, and started living with a man for protection, who also regularly beat her and forced her to continue working.
It was in this environment that Arjun was born a few years later. When he was just a baby, Shalini was forced to hide him away in her room while she worked.
Torn between leaving her child, and his safety, she made the awful choice no mother wants to make: to send him to a friend to live with, another sex-worker.
As a result of being separated from his mother, Arjun rarely went to school and didn't take his education seriously even though Shalini begged him to.
It was only then, when Arjun was a little older, that Shalini heard about a Hope for Children support group for children of sex-workers. She contacted the local team who instantly identified Arjun as a child in desperate need of support. Shalini also took it upon herself to quit alcohol and drugs so that she could be more of a role model to her son.
We worked with Arjun, Shalini and her friend, who he lives with, to enrol him into a new school. At 12:30pm when school finishes, he is picked up by our social workers on the ground and taken to a safe space where Arjun is helped with his studies, and given the chance to take part in other activities like singing, dancing and craft making - all basic elements of a childhood he had never had.
Today, Arjun & Shalini dream of him using his education to become a doctor, and create a new life for the two of them.