Yesterday I read on the newspaper here the story of Jaume Sanllorente, a Catalan guy from Barcelona who worked as a journalist for a financial magazine. One day he walked into a travel agency wanting to book a vacation trip somewhere, he was open to suggestions. The travel agents suggested India. What looked like a vacation trip, changed his life and that of many others forever. In India, Jaume was shocked to the see the situation of the hundreds of thousands of children who lived in the streets, abandoned by their families. Unable to take care of them because of poverty, many families abandoned their children or worse still amputated a leg or an arm off the child so he/she can beg for a living. Many sold them to brothels. Local mafias took children and amputated a limb or two to exploit them as beggars or took girls to local brothels. During his trip Jaume visited an orphanage in Bombay. The place was falling apart and in danger of closing leaving all the children on the streets. Jaume noticed a black jeep parked in front; they were men from a local mafia waiting to get the kids.
Jaume went back to Barcelona, got together all his savings, sold everything he had, borrowed from friends and family, collected favours, went back to Indian and bought the orphanage. He opened an NGO called Sonrisas de Bombay to collect money to finance both the orphanage and a school for abandoned children. The children at the orphanage are placed either with local families or bungalows in the care of a couple of tutors so they can grow in a family atmosphere.
In the interview Jaume says he couldn’t be happier with choice in life. He says he’ll never live Bombay and will care for the children till the day he dies. Jaume has received many death threats from the local mafias but says he’s not worried. If they kill him, he says, no pasa nada, he’s set everything up that the orphanage will be able to continue without him.
We need more people like him in the world.