Shuraj is 16 years old and currently in 9th standard in Delhi, India.
He is tall and thin and politely soft-spoken. His haircut mimics the side “hard-part” style that is so popular in the States and he has a tiny bit of swagger when he walks. I am suddenly reminded that even though the difficulty of his life has given him a more somber demeanor, he is just a teenage boy.
Shuraj doesn’t remember leaving the small village he was born in because he was so young when his father moved them to Rangpuri to try and find work. As soon as he was physically able, he started helping his dad clean cars at stop lights to support their family of five, and he has been doing that every day since.
One day as he was walked home from another long day of washing cars, he saw a newspaper on the ground and picked it up. He desperately wanted to read it, but couldn’t. School wasn’t an option at this point, so he put the paper down and headed home, but the desire in his heart to learn to read had been quietly born.
Then one day, the director of a Hope Venture sponsored school that had been planted right in his area came to speak with his parents. The Hope Venture would cover all supplies and education costs and all that they needed to do was send him the short walking distance to the school. His father knew of his son’s desire to know how to read, and what this could mean for his future, so he decided that they should go ahead and send him. He started much later than most children do, but worked hard to achieve the grades and test scores that he can now boast about.
Shuraj can now read and not just newspapers. He smiles big as he talks about how he loves to read novels in both Hindi and English.
As much as Shuraj loves school, he still finds himself in a daily battle. He wants to go to school so badly and continue his education, but his mother is constantly sick and he watches his father struggle every day to make enough money to feed the family. He is the oldest of 3 boys and feels that he should be helping by going back to help his father wash cars.
And yet, he has this dream of becoming a software engineer.
Even though his parents have zero education themselves, they continue to encourage him on because they know of their son’s dreams. Like parents do, they want more for their children, so they continue to encourage their son on in his education. And now his two younger brothers attend the Hope Venture school. Suraj beams with pride as he talks about his two brothers and how well they are doing in school and how he loves tutoring them.
This isn’t just a changed boy, it’s a changed family.
These parents were given the chance to help their boys achieve a better life because an education was put it within their reach, and now all three of their boys are dreaming of a different future full of hope and possibility.
– Written by Tracy Brester, Photo by Bailey Theisen – June 2016