Hyderabad: Issidore Philip is a messiah for the destitute children across Andhra Pradesh. For 25 years, this educationist and his team at 'Divya Disha' have been rehabilitating the children of a lesser God from railway stations, bus-stands and roadside to a better life.
"Everyone wants a kid, a drug peddler wants a child, our challenge is to constantly reach to the kid first, else we lose him for good," Philip said.
What started off as a voluntary recreation centre soon became a full-fledged rehabilitation organisation. Slowly, Philip was helping abused children pick up the pieces and carry on with life.
"The main thing is that you are asking a kid who has been let down by his family to trust the society again. Rehabilitation for me is restoration of dignity for a child," Philip said.
Restored confidence is helping the children dream again. Ashok is one of them. As a 12-year-old, he had fled home along with his three younger siblings after he was unable to bear the daily abuse of his alcoholic father. He took to the streets to fend for his family till he was rescued by Philip's team. Ten years later, Ashok is pursuing his final year of engineering.
"I want to become a software engineer and give a happy family to my younger sisters. I want to be a happy man," Ashok says.
Divya Disha provides education to more than 80 resident children who live in the hostels. But Philip, the Good Samaritan, knows that he still has a long way to go.
"We haven't done enough, any story of abuse, any rape of a child is a wake up call. A society where children are not safe, I think we are not finished," Philip says.
Twenty-five years is a long time to sustain a passion, but Issidore Philip with his efforts has shown that if your heart is in the right place, restoring childhood and saving young lives can very well be just another day at work.