JANAKA, AGED 75
Janaka lived in an old town in West Bengal amongst the poverty-stricken working class. After the sudden death of her husband when she was 26 and followed by the death of her son at the tender age of 22, Janaka fell into a dark world of severe depression, helplessness and lack of a will to live. Having no other family to turn to, Janaka wandered the streets begging for food and water.
She attached herself to a group of beggers who migrated from city to city, eventually arriving in Vrindavan in 1994. Found in a terrible state by a member of Gaura International, Janaka was taken in at the Ashram where she resides to this day in the company of other elderly women.
During her time at the ashram, Janaka's depression has faded through spiritual practice and engaging in the daily activities arranged by volunteers/devotees.
PARUL, AGED 19
At the age of 10, Parul's mother and father passed away and being the only child, she was left alone to survive in the streets of Vrindavan. After a year of begging and living on the banks of a river and under railway tunnels; Parul was found by a Gaura International worker and taken to the ashram. Parul is now a key figure in the ashram, where she is head pujari; serving the ashram's beloved deities Shri Shri Radha-Giridhari.
VISHNU, aged 20 AND YAMUNA aged 21
Vishnu and Yamuna came to the ashram along with their mother, two sisters and brother. Their mother was abused by their father who had mental illnesses. After years of suffering, they left home and wandered various towns where their mother tried to find work. Eventually, they came to Vrindavan in 2009, where they were directed to the ashram.
Vishnu is currently one of the lead cooks in the ashram, providing meals for all the residents throughout the day. She is also heavily involved with the weekly market run.
Yamuna assists in pujari service and has a passion for making clothes for the deities. She is also currently undertaking an in-depth study of the Srimad Bhagavatam. Unfortunately, Yamuna recently sustained an injury to her leg for which she is having ongoing treatment. She is being cared for by her sisters and the ashram residents and we hope she will be back to full health soon.