Hyderabad: Almost a year ago, when Ivanka Trump was days away from visiting Hyderabad, a cleanliness initiative by authorities here started making headlines.
Hyderabad was supposedly being cleared of beggars, said posts on social media and in mainstream media too. And for the next few days, every shabby-looking homeless person was literally picked up off streets. However, it wasn’t a heartless clean-up drive as many made it out to be, but a unique rehabilitation programme that ended up transforming many lives.
A year later, on this one-of-its-kind initiative’s first anniversary, Telangana Today spoke with a few inmates of the Anand Ashram at Chanchalguda Prison.
“I was gambling on the streets when the police picked me up. I was scared they would punish me but they instead brought me here. It is very comfortable here and I get to wear clean clothes. I’ve been learning how to cut hair here so I’ll probably become a barber when I am let free,” said 22-year-old Kranti, in the Ashram for three months now.
60-year-old Ajay has picked up gardening as a hobby
“I ended up on the streets after months of unemployment. My health was bad and did not have fresh clothes. But here, they gave me clean clothes, a bed and food to eat. They let me go after 8 to 10 days but I couldn’t find any work and did not want to end up on the streets again, I returned and they welcomed me back. I attend the classes where they teach us to read and write in English and Telugu. I am also responsible for watering the plants,” said Ajay.
However, a few others, like Santosh Shetty 55, are in the Ashram for almost a year now, still not ready to embrace the outside world.
“He was working in Dubai when an unfortunate legal goof-up caused mayhem in his life. He lost his passport and job and was forced to return to India. We found him doing odd jobs and he’s been here ever since,” said Dr Ali who counsels the inmates.
“My family still doesn’t know that I stay here. They think I am in Bombay, working. I have nothing now. But I am happy here. This initiative is truly unique. Nowhere have I seen this kind of support from the government. When I leave, I will go to my family in Mangaluru,” said Santosh.