Sadly, Anna passed away on Sunday 21st October 2018. He will always be in our hearts and this is his story…
Anna (which means ‘brother’ in Tamil) was born in Tamil Nadu, South India. He was partially deaf, epileptic and had learning and behaviour problems. After his mother died, his family did not know what to do with him. His father took him on a long train ride. Anna fell asleep. When he woke, his father had left him. He was alone, confused and roaming around the unfamiliar tracks of Howrah station. Picked up by a local institution, Anna was often beaten and drugged to the point of comatose to keep him quiet. He was 10 years old.
Along with Sunil, he was the first of the boys David helped, and therefore where the shuktara story began in 1999. He came to us when he was about 16, and his behaviour was so challenging that no one else would work with him and he had nowhere to go.
Because of his ordeal Anna was very sensitive and could easily get upset. He had difficulty feeling comfortable in new environments and it took him a long time to feel at home in shuktara.
As the home he was in previously didn’t provide anything more than food, and most of the time Anna was there he was either locked in a cupboard or was being beaten by the guards, he had never held a pen or pencil before. We enrolled him in the adult training programme at the Indian Institute of Cerebral Palsy, and he soon experienced being part of a team in the bakery section of their Adult Training Unit. He also asked to draw from time to time, and we love the portraits he created.
Anna’s safe place was in his space on the ground floor of the shuktara boys house, and he rarely moved from there apart from going to the bathroom. He sometimes cleaned the floors of the ground floor of the house, if he wanted to. But he would do it in his own time and not when people asked him to. He loved watching TV and listening to music on the radio.
David, shuktara’s founder, said this about Anna:
“This is his home. It is the only place he has ever known that has kept him safe and not abandoned him. None of us could imagine the trauma that Anna has had to face in his life.
We know that Anna needs safety and security for him to feel at peace. In one swift moment that peace can be shattered by a thought, a word or an action by somebody around him. I see his deep pain and it makes me so happy that we have been able to help him.”
For the 19 years Anna lived at shuktara he had the best life he could have possibly had in India. The shuktara boys home is now called Anna Bari in his memory.