Raja…Peer Outreach Worker, Salaam Baalak Trust“I am from the streets. I have done all sorts of bad things in my life. Now that I am clean, my life should be useful to persons like me”. These are the words of Raja, a Peer Outreach Worker of Salaam Baalak Trust (SBT) in Mumbai. Raja, aged 19, is an orphan. He was raised in Sneha Sadan, an orphanage run by the Holy Family Church in Andheri, Mumbai. He was introduced to drugs by a friend when he was 12 years old. For three years prior to June 2006 he had been injecting brown sugar. Now Raja is HIV positive.
In June 2006, Raja attended the SBT awareness programme organised under UNODC project RAS/H71 at the YMCA. At this event he became inspired by the programme, and insisted that he wanted to be admitted to the Don Bosco de–addiction centre immediately. SBT’s outreach worker Shabbir took him to the drop–in centre at Dadar from where he was taken to Lonavala de–addiction centre by their workers. He stayed there for a month, and then was sent back to Mumbai. Upon his return to Mumbai, he went to SBT where he showed an interest to work.
SBT provided him the timely support he needed. Now he is clean and does not want to hang around his old haunts, though he would like to work with young people like him and help them. Today he has found a place in Mankhurd to stay with a friend, and he is working as an outreach worker for Mukti (an NGO working with drug using adults) and as a Peer Educator for SBT. Raja is highly motivated, and wants to remain clean and emulate Hasmukh, the senior outreach worker at SBT.
Raja is ready. His mission is clear. He is on the move…