I was three months old when I was brought to the SOS Children’s Village in Guwahati. I was 18 when I first left to live in a residential college hostel away from my SOS home. On my identity card, instead of my father’s name, it read Village Director, Guwahati. My college friends thought I’d written my father’s title instead of his name by mistake. It made me realize how different my life had been from theirs growing up in an SOS Children’s Village.
That’s when I would tell them I loved and cherished everything about my life at SOS. We had a beautiful green campus and playgrounds. My SOS mother loved me and we had wonderful staff who were like family. I still talk to them every day and pick their brains with my curiosity. They all indulge me. I feel like I have been really lucky in this life, like I was God’s own child.
When my friends ask me if I think about my biological parents or why they would have left me they get surprised when I tell them I do not think about them so much. I have had such a good life and such a caring family. My life is full of love so my mind doesn’t often go there. Once in a while, if I think about my mom and why she may have left me, I just feel bad for her. As for me, I think I am luckier than most in the number of siblings I can call for help or support.
When I came to Jaipur for college to study commerce it took me a while to adjust to the change. Here I was this girl from a different part of the country who landed in a new city and yet I made sure I connected with my SOS siblings here in the city. I remember I would call my mother every day and tell her how much I missed her and my siblings. Sometimes I would even call our Village Director, who I call Subodh Uncle, who would guide me on how to deal with the challenges I had to face, like a father.
I remember one time I had to appear for an entrance exam in New Delhi, which is a bustling metropolis and very overwhelming. I got so stressed and confused that I couldn’t make it to the exam. Petrified and upset, I called Subodh Uncle to tell him about what happened. He started laughing and telling me it was all right, that there would be many more opportunities like the exam for me in the future. He said I should just see the humor in the situation and remember everyone goes through situations like that. I make friends easily but my backbone always remains my SOS family.
After the COVID-19 lockdown ended, I was alone in my college hostel for a while. That’s when I developed an interest in Instagram to keep in touch with my friends and family. It also motivated me to get out of the house a little bit so I could post about the places to explore around Jaipur like cycling trails, temples and nature walks. Being inside the house all by myself was affecting me mentally. I love taking pictures and I always want to share what I learn about a place or experience with others. So I started posting about my experiences of making the most of lockdown by cooking, cycling around and staying positive despite the challenges. I received so much encouragement from everyone that I have made up my mind to post more consistently.
I want others to know that my story is happy, even though it is different from what people expect it to be. I want to build a really happy, successful life because there are so many SOS siblings watching me as an example. I know this because when I was growing up, I would look at my elder siblings in SOS and be encouraged by their success and happiness. I hope to be the same for my younger sisters and brothers.
Sneha, 20, studies commerce at a residential college in Jaipur, India and plans to pursue a degree Business Administration. Sneha grew up in SOS Children’s Village in Guwahati, in northeast India.