The Children of Bornfree:
Robin Balu, 20
Robin was without his mother and working in agriculture when he joined Bornfree. His dream is to complete the 10th standard and becomes a drummer. Robin bravely documented the lives and struggles of working and street children in Tamil Nadu by going inside of factories to photograph the child workers within. Robin now is teaching drumming workshops and working as a driver for Bornfree.
Sanjana J, 20
Sanjana worked as a domestic worker in many houses in Ahmedabad before she was sent to a Juvenile Home. She was brought from there to Bornfree by Frida (a former Bornfree student) and is currently studying dance and drama. Sanjana acted in the short film CheChe, which was written and directed by John Devaraj. Sanjana is currently working with the Bornfree Dance Academy.
Anthony Das, 19
Anthony dropped out of the 4th standard to take care of his grandmother's painting shop on the streets. He worked there for two years and then joined the 7th standard. He again had to drop out to work in the painting shop to support his family. Jayaram brought him to the Bornfree Art School and he has since learned drumming, painting, sculpting, dance, theater and music. Anthony is in his first year of St. Joseph's PUC. Anthony's dream is to become a professional drummer and he always wants to work towards the liberation of working and street children.
Before Prashath came to the Bornfree Art School, he was a flower-seller in the city market. His story, and others like him, inspired the children of Bornfree to do an expose of the rose-selling business in Bangalore. Their story and the pictures they took were featured in several newspapers including a three-page color spread in the Bangalore Mirror (June 14, 2007). Prashath is good drummer and his other hobbies include drawing and acting. Prashath is currently working hard to finish the 10th standard at the KOS so that he can join an arts college.
Anand worked for five years chopping coconuts on the streets to support his family before he was brought by Jayaram to join the Bornfree School. With the support of Bornfree, Anand is now studying the 10th standard in St. Joseph's Indian High School. Anand is studying ballet and jazz dance under Yana Lewis, an international renowned ballerina. http://www.thelewisfoundation.org Anand's dream is to study in English medium and also becomes a great artist and dancer.
Balemani was working as a rag picker in Jayanagar 9th Block. One night a group from Bornfree was coming home late from the railway station when they saw a group of boys playing. The Bornfree group joined in the games and then invited the boys to come to Bornfree. Balemani, alone of all the boys, choose to come and join Bornfree. Balemani is very artistic and is an excellent sketcher and sculptor. He often works with John building furniture and sculpting tools.
Srinivas Kranthi, 17
Srinivas was working as a rag picker in the Kormungla area. A boy from Bornfree saw him, and told him: 'Come with me, I will teach you art.' Now Srinivas is learning screen printing in APSA (an NGO) and wants to be an artist.
Gowri Gazella, 16
Gowri is an orphan who was working both as a domestic worker and also in a construction site before joining Bornfree in 2007. She is very cheerful and always smiling, despite what she has gone through. Gowri was not at all interested in formal education when she first came to Bornfree, but following her participation in the Peacebycycle expedition, she changed her mind. Gowri is currently studying at the Kingdom of Children School in J.P. Nagar and wants to finish the 10th standard and go to college. She is also interested in dance and is part of the Bornfree Dance Academy.
Subramani is Anand's younger brother. Once Anand came to Bornfree, Subramani was pulled out of school and started work as a tender-coconut cutter for his family. Anand then brought him to Bornfree where he enrolled in the 7th standard. He is currently in the 9th standard and also learning Judo at school. He is very good at acting and public speaking. Subramani's dream is to do a Post Graduate in Social Work.
Santosh had dropped out of the 5th Standard and was working in a marriage hall with his mother for 4 years making dosas, sweets and bondas. He has also worked making agarabathis (incense sticks). Santosh was not interested in formal education when he initially joined Bornfree, but he started showing interest in studying once he was given a horse to take care of. After the Peacebycycle expedition, Santosh decided to go back to education and is currently studying at the Kingdom of Childhood School in J.P. Nagar. He is also an excellent gymnast and a dancer as well as a horseback rider, and it is his dream to become a jockey.
Jallali was put into selling chai by his father. When a Software Engineer bought 50 cups of tea from Jallali at Rs.2 a cup and never paid him, Jallali was unable to pay his master and was forced to become a bonded laborer. After being liberated by Bornfree, Jallali has started learning painting and drawing and wants to become an artist one day. He is studying 9th standard in the prestigious St Joseph Indian High school. Jallali is a versatile actor and comedian and has been a very active member of Bornfree, helping to write the world's largest love letter to the Children of Pakistan and cycling in Bornfree's first Peacebycycle History expedition covering 4000kms of Karnataka,Tamil Nadu, and Goa. During this expedition, he took 5000 pictures of working children of Karnataka and went with other members of Bornfree to present them to the Indian Parliament. Jallali stood up in the Parliament house and spoke to the Labour Minister Shri Oscar Fernandes on behalf of working and indentured children, saying: "Sir, when I used to graze cattle I saw many planes up above and I waved to them with my friends. Now that I came here to the parliament by aeroplane I saw all my friends down there waving to me. They are still grazing cattle. Sir, can you not do something about them?" In response, the UN chief said "How many more children should come here to remind us of adult responsibilities?"
Venkatesh fled from home at the age of six and began working in a petty shop. Venkatesh was abused and electrocuted by his owner. Spartacus, Kiran and Gowri rescued Venkatesh from this situation and brought him to Bornfree where he is now studying 8th standard at St.Joseph School.
Kishore is a 13 year old boy studying in 6th standard who lives in the Bornfree home. Kishore loves dancing, and his favorite dance style is the Tapanguchi. Though it is not a widely known style of dance outside of South India, Kishore says that "anyone can do a Tapanguchi if you have a lungi and a towel in your hand". Kishore is currently studying in an English medium school and his ambition is to become a collector.
Ravi had gone to school up until the 7th standard when he then dropped out to work at a mechanic shop. There he worked for two years earning Rs.10 per day working everyday from 8am to 11pm. Because of Ravi's involvement in Peacebycycle, he felt he had to return to school. He is now studying informally at the Kingdom of Childhood School but Ravi is determined to study. Ravi's dream is to become a drummer.
Prem was living on MG Road and was involved with alcohol and drugs. John saw him on MG Road and invited him to come to Bornfree. At first Prem was scared, but he was eventually convinced to come. Prem is interested in gymnastics and drawing.
Abilash, 13 ; Srinivas D, 13 ; Srinivas S, 13
Abilash, Srinivas D. and Srinivas S. were all in the NGO APSA. One day they met Kiran who said “You come with me, then you can finish 7th standard.” All three agreed and joined the Bornfree School. All three are now studying in the 8th Standard at St. Joseph’s Indian High School.
Murgesh D, 13
Murgesh is the younger brother of Anand and Subramani. His brothers brought him to the Bornfree School after they joined. He is currently studying in the 8th Standard at the St. Joseph's Indian High School. Murgesh is also studying gymnastics and wants to be a gymnast when he is older.
Gaja is from Bihar and was sold by his parents for Rs.500 to an owner in Bangalore. For four years he worked in a sewing factory, stitching school bags. One day he ran away from the factory and was rescued by another student from the Bornfree Art School. The youngest member of Bornfree, Gaja is just 10 years old, but his young age does not keep him from talking about anything and everything under the sun. Gaya loves to talk and has an opinion on everything he sees. Though Gaya sometimes misses his parents, he says he is happy very here at Bornfree.
The Founders of Bornfree:
John's Artslam webpage