Soaring High On Wings of Hope

Soaring High On Wings of Hope

On his 24th birthday, Arun Koundinya is a commissioned officer in the Indian Air Force. He was commissioned in June 2011. Looking at this brilliant, active and fun-loving young man, one would think he is a product of one of those high-profile public schools. Far from it, the fact is that his childhood and adolescent years were nothing more than pain, anxiety, uncertainty and struggle.
Arun’s family broke up when he was hardly 4 years old. He lived with his father, S R Koundinya in Hyderabad. Koundinya was a very brilliant and well-read man and worked as a freelance journalist. Arun had an elder sister, Sara. They both attended the local school.
Arun was very fond of trains. One day when he was around 8 years old and in Class II, he bunked class and went to see the railway station, along with a friend. The AP Express was about to leave the station. Arun and his friend jumped into the train and the train chugged off with them! They got down at Nagpur, some 600 km away. They enjoyed the journey and were so excited! At Nagpur station they roamed around for a while. It was all fun! They had brought with them some money. They were then planning how to go to Delhi when the railway personnel rounded them up and took them to the State Children’s Home in Nagpur. The authorities of the Home tried to trace the children’s families, but they did not succeed.
Meanwhile, back in Hyderabad, Arun’s father Koundinya was frantically searching for his lost son. He visited Children’s Homes in all parts of the country. It was on one such journey that he happened to come to Don Bosco Navajeevan Balabhavan, a network of Shelter Homes for missing and runaway children, in Vijayawada. It was there that he met Fr. Thomas Koshy, its Director. Fr. Koshy offered him all possible help. In fact, he made a lot of efforts to search for Arun through the network of Don Bosco Institutions all over India. Koundinya was so impressed by the efforts Fr. Koshy made to trace his lost son that he kept up the contact with Don Bosco Navajeevan and Fr. Koshy.
Arun was, in the meantime, feeling very worried and sad. He was missing his father so much! He and his friend spent about a year in the Government Home in Nagpur. One day in 1996 they escaped from the Home, and after walking a long distance, reached a railway station. Then they boarded a train and came straight to Hyderabad. He then started looking for his father in the station and the surrounding areas. Being a small boy and having been away in a faraway place for over a year, Arun couldn’t trace back his home. Arun lived on the platform for a few days hoping that he would meet his father someday. Finally one day, Arun met his father at the station! His father had come there looking for his missing son! It was the end of an exhausting year-long search!
After returning home, Koundinya took Arun to meet Fr. Koshy at Navajeevan, Vijayawada. During that meeting Fr. Kohsy suggested that Arun and his sister could be put in Don Bosco boarding school at P.T. Paru, near Guntur. Thus Arun and Sara began their studies there.
In 1997 Koundinya died suddenly of a massive heart-attack. Koundinya was a kind man and helpful to everyone in the neighbourhood; hence everyone in the area loved him. The neighbours also knew how close Koundinya was to
Fr. Koshy. They contacted him at once and informed him of his death. Fr. Koshy reached the spot immediately and stayed there till the cremation was over. After all the religious ceremonies were over the neighbours took Arun and Sara to Don Bosco Navajeevan and entrusted them to Fr. Koshy. After keeping the children at Navajeevan for a period of time, Fr. Koshy arranged to admit Arun and Sara in Don Bosco Boarding School, Ravulapalem, in Godavari District. Arun was admitted in Class 5 and Sara in Class 7 in June 1998.
In the meantime, Fr. Koshy made efforts to search for their mother and finally he succeeded. She was living in Delhi. She came to meet Fr. Koshy and the children. She kept regular contact with the children. During holidays, the children used to go to Delhi and stay with their mother. In fact, when Sara completed her 10th Class, she went back to her mother in Delhi and continued her studies there. However, Arun had made Don Bosco Navjeevan his home – the teachers, staff members, Anu Aunty, Fr. Koshy, and others became his family members. He completed his 10th Class with 76 % marks in 2003.
Thereafter, Fr. Koshy put Arun in Loyola College, Vijayawada, for his Intermediate studies. He stayed in the college hostel. He completed his intermediate in 2005 with 78% and on his request Fr. Koshy arranged for him to study Aeronautic Engineering in Indore, Madhya Pradesh. Unfortunately the College at Indore was undergoing a lot of academic and administrative problems and so after about two years of study Arun wound up the course there and returned to Navajeevan. Arun then pursued a BSc Degree in Mathematics, Electronics and Computer.
By then, Arun had a desire to get into some good government service especially Air Force. So he used to keep looking for ads in the newspaper inviting applications for government services. One day, he saw an advertisement from ‘Indian Air Force’ for Ground Duty Officers’ Course (GDOC). He applied for it, cleared the written test and the various interviews. He passed all the tests and got selected on merit for GDOC. Just then his Degree results also came; it was in June 2010. He got 62% marks. Immediately he joined the Course at the Air Force Academy, Hyderabad. On 18th June 2011 he completed the training and became a Commissioned Officer. Believe it or not, Arun is now all set to conquer even greater heights!
Arun now says: “All what I am I owe to Don Bosco Navajeevan, to the various persons at Navajeevan, like Fr. Koshy, Anu Aunty and others. It is true, that I applied for jobs, wrote the exams etc. But, without the support of these persons, I would not have reached where I am today. At a time when I was going through hard times, it was Don Bosco Navajeevan that supported me, sustained me, motivated me and stood by me”.

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