AWARDS AND ACCOLADES
Mr. Raja has been accredited with many awards. He has been lauded for his efforts two years in a row. He received the Induvalu H Honnaiah Samaja Seva Prashasti in 2001, and the following year he received an award from Governor of Karnataka Smt. Rama Devi on the Republic Day of 2002 for his outstanding social work. Raja has been acknowledged with many Rotary Awards and several MLA’s and Ministers have honored his dedicated services.
- CNN IBN 2010Real Heroes Award
- Kempegowda Award (2 Times)
- Karnataka State Governor [31/07/2007 and 2018]
- Karnataka Rajyotsava Award-2013
- Namma Bengaluru Award-2010
- Philips Bravery Award in Mumbai 2016 and 2017)
About The Founder ( Courtesy Book: BEING YOU AGAINST ALL ODDS) from Preethi Rai
T RAJA ( SOCIAL WORKER )
I am the eldest of four siblings, the son of a linesman and a housewife. Because of his job, my father used to shift houses a lot and I would have to change schools. Over time, I became the oldest in my class and started losing interest in my studies. I fell into bad company, began drinking and smoking, and was addicted to the movies. Slowly, I began stealing to feed my addictions. Eventually, after a lot of beating, my parents started distancing themselves from me.
When I was 16, my father threw me out of the house. For two years, I lived like a beggar, slept on the pavement amidst rabid dogs and garbage. I finally went to Chennai with the dream of working in the film industry and got myself a job as a cleaner in a hotel. The first week, they did not payme my salary and so I stole all their plates and ran away. It was then that I met an old couple, both of whom were beggars. They took me home, fed me and sheltered me, but when they headed out the next day, I tried to steal their copper lamps. Neighbours caught me and beat me up. I escaped to the train station but the police caught me and sent me to a juvenile home. That is when things started to change.
There were many things that were like hell in the home, but it was there that I was introduced to yoga and spirituality. As converted Christians, I began bartering with Jesus to let me out of the home before Christmas. I said my life would be dedicated to him after that. Miraculously, in ten days, my parents came, paid the fine and took me away back to Bengaluru. I started driving an auto. But old habits die hard. I quickly became the bodyguard for the head of our auto union and began acting up. When the Transport Minister banned autos, I went to the gates of the Vidhana Soudha and even poured petrol on myself, threatening to burn myself. My friends put some sense into me and that is when I began thinking about my life.
It was 1996, the year Mother Teresa died. I saw people dressed in rags defecating on the road and I began questioning God again. If there is a home for dogs in this world, why are these people left without a home? That is when I discovered my purpose on Earth. My first rescue was a lady from SP road. She was covered in fleas, dressed in rags, and maggots were chewing on to her toes. I brought her back in my auto and began rescuing people. I’d clean and shave them, and dress and feed them. I faced a lot of resistance when I first started out- from the destitutes who were not used to having people care, from others who thought I was doing this for an organ theft racket, and from my own parents.
Over the last two decades, I have rescued over 19,000 destitutes and given around 9000 people a decent burial. After all, every person has a right to live and die with dignity. Through the journey, I have continued to fight for their basic needs