My name is Vikrant Sharma. It comes as a big surprise for people when they come to know that I am from a slum area of Rishikesh. It is a big shock to many people because the children from my area are usually smoking cigarettes on the streets, using bad words, abusing other children and drinking. Along with the 11 other boys who lived in Mother Miracle School at night, we were on a whole different level compared to other children in our area. We were different because of our body language, way of speaking, education and especially being respectful to each other, our family and the people around us.
I belong to a very poor family who could hardly afford three meals a day. I have a younger sister, a very beautiful mother, and I had an abusive father, who almost every night, used to beat all three of us after drinking before he went to bed. I still remember pretending to fall asleep whenever it was time for my father to get home.
My mom worked really hard at home and earned some money from sewing so I could get an education. But all of her hard work was not enough to put me in a good school. My family lived in one small room, and all four of us slept in one bed. I felt so helpless because my condition at home meant that I could not study. I was going to a Government School in the slum area and studying in Hindi because it is a cheaper school for poor people who cannot afford to go to English private schools. My mom’s hard work was always a big motivation for me. It motivates me to be successful in life so I can take my mom and sister out of this lifestyle.
In 2009, I heard about Mother Miracle School from a friend of mine and I joined the evening school. I love Mother Miracle School a lot. I loved its environment, the students, teachers and the education provided there. I was one of the best students in the school.
I found out that Shahla Ma’am started to support intelligent kids, who had a dream and were willing to work hard to achieve their goals. She would provide them three meals a day, a mattress, blanket and a classroom to study peacefully with a fan and a light. So one day, I went to Shahla Ma’am and told her about my family background and that I could not study in my house at night because of the emotional environment, and I asked her if I could also live with the other 11 boys at school.
Vikrant (age 11) with his beloved mother (right).
I also told Shalha Ma’am about my childhood story and how I used to go to a clinic near my house and sit there for hours waiting for the doctor to give me his white coat and stethoscope to try on for just a few minutes, and I would pretend to be a doctor. That was the best memory of my childhood because I was living my dream as reality for a few minutes. When Shahla Ma’am heard this story, her eyes filled with tears and she took me in her arms. She told me, “from now on I will be your second mother and will always be there for you.
Then I wanted to go to an English Private School and I challenged Ma’am to change my school so that I could get the best education. I promised her that I would learn English in two months. Those two months were probably the hardest time of my journey but I learned enough English to enter a private English school! Shahla Ma’am was shocked that I got accepted in that school after passing their test, and my journey started. That was the point when I told myself not to look back, just keeping looking forward to my goal of becoming a Neurosurgeon. In 2010, I started my new life in the private school in 8th grade and was very happy to meet all the rich and clean children of my age at the school. I was looking forward to all of the challenges I was going to face.
When I was 14 years old, Shahla Ma’am gave me another opportunity in her after-school program. I began teaching the Kindergarten class vocabulary words so I could earn some money to help my family. Every time I put my money on our altar at home, I prayed deep in my soul that I would take my mother and sister out of this misery.
In 2012, I passed my 10th grade with first division honors. That was the time when I decided to go to the most expensive, hardest and challenging school of the town. After looking at my grades, Shahla Ma’am agreed. My grades dwindled a little bit and I got third position at that school. I studied hard enough to be first in my class, but ended up being third because I skipped a month worth of school. My father got very sick and was admitted to the hospital for a month. We could not afford a nurse and I had to take care of him, cleaning his vomit, carrying him to toilet, changing his sheets and giving him his medicine. Unfortunately, he passed away leaving all the responsibilities of the family on me. I was really heartbroken at the time because I loved him alot and wanted to have a real dad. I wanted to help him out of his abusive habits and make him a better person.
Vikrant (age 14) teaching English to Mother Miracle students to earn his first salary.
Vikrant (age 6) with his abusive and alcoholic Father (deceased).
Shahla Ma’am came for my graduation and took me to San Francisco, California for a two week trip as my reward. She asked me what I wanted to see as a tourist, but nothing came to mind except to get a tour of Stanford University, UC Berkeley, UC Davis and to travel to Los Angeles to see UCLA. So we did! Currently I am doing my undergraduate in the United States at Drake University. I am double majoring in BioChemistry/Molecular Biology and Neuroscience and pursuing my goal of becoming a neurosurgeon.
In 2014, a gentlemen name Chad Kammin came to Mother Miracle with his friend as a volunteer. Shahla Ma’am told him about me and asked him if he knew anyone who could sponsor me to study in America. Without taking another breath he said, “I will.” Within a few months, my paperwork was sent by him, and Shahla Ma’am got me a passport and visa. A few months later, Shahla Ma’am took me to Des Moines and there I started living with Chad in his two master bedroom apartment.
I went from a slum area, living in one room and sharing my bed with my father, mother and sister to having my own master suite. Chad put me in Roosevelt High School, which is one of the best schools in the United States, and I graduated with honors in 2015 in the top 3 percentile of the school.
My goal is to return to India and provide my mom, who has only struggled through her life, and my sister, a better life. I don’t want to see my mother work for a living. Instead, I want to see her enjoying her life. I also want to give back to my community by serving as a Neurosurgeon and helping people who cannot afford medical expenses. I will never forget my struggle and where I came from. I will help Mother Miracle School and motivate other children who came from similar abusive, helpless backgrounds to try their best and achieve their goals.