In 1993, the 16-year-old Shivakumar ran away from home. He worked and begged on the railway platforms of Bangalore. He also worked in hotels where he was abused and ill-treated. Today, at 32 he has a two-storied house, for which he paid Rs. 28 lakhs! He owns two small factories and does good business. Recently he purchased a plot of land in Bangalore paying Rs. 35 lakhs! A true ‘rags to riches’, story. ‘How?’ is the obvious question you will ask! Find out as his story unfolds here.
Shivakumar hails from Chennakuppa Village near Katpadi in Vellore district of Tamil Nadu. He has not seen his father Purkotiya. His mother Kuppamma told him that he had hanged himself after a dispute with his grandmother. His mother worked as a coolie for Rs. 20/- a day. Poverty and hunger were all that Shivakumar knew in his youth. No wonder he dropped out of school while in Class VII and started working as a coolie. But there was no steady income and whatever he got was hardly enough to meet his expenses. After a month’s hard work he would get about Rs. 300. He thought he would go to some big city and earn something more to support his mother.
With the little money he had earned, Shivakumar left home, came to Katpadi railway station and boarded a train. It took him to Bangalore. As he alighted, a man approached him and offered him a job in a hotel. The place was Ganganahalli. After working there for a month, he asked for his salary. The owner said ‘next month’. He worked there for three months without pay and then ran away. All his dreams got shattered. Somehow he reached the Bangalore City Railway station. He was so tired and sad. He lay down and slept like a log in a quiet corner to recoup himself. He was not sure how many hours passed; he was woken up by Mr. Ramesh, a staff of BOSCO (a Don Bosco organization that takes care of children at risk in Bangalore). The two chatted for a while and Shivakumar agreed to go with Ramesh to BOSCO Yuvakendra.
At BOSCO, Shivakumar shared his story with Ms. Mary Triza, the counsellor. As he shared the story of what happened to him
in the hotel, one of the staff,
Ms. Brinda Adiga, who was then in-charge of Advocacy in BOSCO, took Shivakumar to the hotel where he had worked and, with the support of the police, got his salary released – Rs. 1,200! After this, Shivakumar was taken back to his home in Vellore.
After staying at home for a few months, Shivakumar returned to Yuvakendra. He had come on his own, and with a clear purpose. He wanted to learn to stand on his own feet. Mary Triza identified this urge in him. Mary says that Shivakumar would have been 17 at that time (1993). He chose to go to his maternal uncle, at Tannery Road, for learning some trade. He was allowed. The work there was that of cable wiring. Shivakumar found the work difficult and left the place after a week. He came back to Yuvakendra.
Mary then placed Shivakumar with Mr. Arun who was a trainer and employer known to BOSCO. He had a Nickel Chrome Plating factory on 80-feet Road, Rajaji Nagar. He was also a member of the “Youth for Youth” and a friend of children. Mary chose the place because the employer was known and there was another Tamil boy, Muruga, at Don Bosco Yuvakendra who was going to the same place for work. Shivakumar knew very little of Kannada. Muruga would be good company for him and would also help him pick up the work as well as the language. The two became very close friends and keep in touch even today
It took Shivakumar several years to learn the intricacies of Nickel Chrome plating. At the end of this period, he was getting a salary of Rs. 3,500 per month. Mary describes the joy on his face when he received his first salary. She remembers scolding him once for spending the entire salary on enjoyment. She recalls personally collecting the salaries of Shivakumar and some of the other boys. She says that the temptation to spend was very strong among the teenagers; so, collecting the salary was also a part of disciplining them
Mary says that Shivakumar was very focused on his work. Muruga and he were sent to live independently in a room near Magadi Road. The security deposit for this room was paid by BOSCO and the rent had to be borne by the boys themselves. Later he changed his job as he was offered a better salary– Rs. 5,000/- per month — at Sarbana Electrical Plating at Srirampura. Shivakumar worked here for three years.
He got married to his maternal cousin Pramila in 2003. Now he was no longer a bachelor and hence wished to have his salary increased. The employer did not agree. He waited for 3 months but the employer was adamant. This was the time when Shivkumar’s wife gave him the idea of starting their own factory. Pramila contacted a friend of hers, Mr. Munirappa, who lent her Rs. 1 lakh. It was a pleasant surprise and a great motivation for Shivakumar to start his own enterprise.
With Rs. 1 lakh and some bank loan, Shivakumar started his factory of Nickel Chrome Plating about 8 years ago. In the initial stages Pramila would also devote a lot of time to the factory. She had studied up to Class X and hence could understand accounts and do a lot of secretarial works that were needed. She would manage all this while Shivakumar looked into the practical aspects like production and marketing. As the business started flourishing, he was able to buy gold and jewelry for her. Shivakumar proudly says the credit for the success of his venture goes to his wife. Shivakumar was also able to support his brother financially to contest and win the Gram Panchayat elections in his Village.
Three years ago, he started another factory. He has also purchased a house three years ago in Ramachandrapuram close to Okhlipuram. The property is a two-storied building which cost him Rs. 28 lakhs. Shivakumar is constantly on the path of progress. Recently he purchased a site in Pinya worth Rs. 35 lakhs. He has also acquired two vehicles.
Five years of the marriage had passed. The couple did not have children. Again Mary Triza helped them see Dr. Padmini in St. Martha’s Hospital and then took her to Desai Nursing Home. A lot of money and effort went into this. The treatment was successful. A baby girl was born to them; the cute little one, Kirti, is now one-and-a half years old.
Shivakumar has not forgotten his journey from misery to success. He does not lose any opportunity to contribute in BOSCO’s programs, materially and financially.
Shivakumar – BOSCO, Bangalore