You have left home at the age of 17. Eleven years later, you are eager to reunite with your family. Strangely, there is no homecoming for you. The reason? Your family is unable to take care of you.
This is the heartbreaking story of Vinod Banjara who, as a 17-year-old, left Ahmedabad after becoming addicted to drugs.
Vinod is 28 now but his family, grappling with poverty, is unable to welcome him.
Vinod’s aunt Jarsidevi Gwaria, who lives in Jaipur, told The Times of India his parents died years after he went missing.
Even the closest member of his family, his elder brother Gopi, a labourer in Ahmedabad, hasn’t been able to take care of him owing to challenging financial conditions. “I have no means even to meet the expenses of my son. I cannot afford to take care of him even if I bring him back,” Gopi was quoted as saying by The Times of India.
According to TOI, workers of NGO Iswar Sankalpa found Vinod roaming the Kolkata streets in October 2021.
The NGO put Vinod in rehabilitation, arranged for his treatment, and secured him in a shelter home.
“My health is normal now and I want to return home. I will work and earn for myself,” Vinod told TOI during an interview by phone.
“We told the family members that we can pay for his transport,” Tapan Pradhan, reintegration coordinator of Iswar Sankalpa, told the paper.
It was Pradhan who contacted ‘Friends For Women and Children’ (FFWC), a CID Crime initiative of Gujarat Police, to help locate Vinod’s home in Ahmedabad. The FFWC volunteers managed to locate his residence in Amraiwadi police station limits in November 2022.
His brother and neighbours confirmed that Vinod had been missing since 2012.