JEEVODAYA and the BOGIEWALLAHS
Jeevodaya is the largest scale project the BEJT supports, and the one most directly connected
to the bogiewallahs. Basically, Jeevodaya provides a residential hostel, with rehabilitation, education and vocational training for boys who have ended up living on the railway platform
in Itarsi station. Funding for Jeevodaya is currently split between BEJT and The Railway Children (another UK based charity).
Once Jane and Ashley began taking the Itarsi Reunion idea seriously, they proposed that,
partly in return for the disturbance over 100 foreign tourists would cause, the bogiewallahs should do something to help the town. Their own experiences with children on railway
platforms all over India made their suggestion of funding a hostel for platform boys in Itarsi particularly appropriate. At the 2000 Reunion, bogiewallahs pledged enough to pretty well
finance the purchase of the land and the building of the hostel. The work of running the hostel and its services is done by Sister Clara from St Joseph's Convent in Itarsi and her helpers.
In addition to the residential home, Jeevodaya also runs a drop-in centre for children, both girls and boys, who live on the railway but for one reason or another are no able to make the transition to the residential home.
The boys are divided into groups of six, each with a senior boy as group leader. Rather like the British boarding school system with points deducted for bad behaviour and a prize for the best
team each week. The groups are called: Lion, Dragon, Tiger, Godzilla, and Mango. Names which the groups selected for themselves, "Mango"? Currently the building has a single
storey with a usable flat roof. The boys currently sleep on mattresses on the floor of the large open space which comprises most of the downstairs space. The remainder of the space being
taken up with a couple of offices, the sickroom, kitchen, toilet facilities etc..
Plans to build a second storey are currently being finalised. This will provide separate bedrooms for each group of boys, a work/study room and may
be even a common room for the senior boys. All this work will be funded by BEJT. In addition the church is allowing Sister Clara to form a separate
community and is planning to build a house for this community on the site of the existing shed in the grounds. This will not only provide
accommodation for herself and the other nuns involved in the project but will include a guest room for vistors.