My name is Muthu Ajith Kumar, I'm currently 19 years old, and I come from a low-income family. Many people believe that India is a beautiful place and it is full of hidden things. But life for me has been very hard. When I was little, around six month's old, my dad left my mum due to money problems, and he ran away.
From then, my mum became a single parent and had to look after me alone. When I was a baby, the hospital gave us free bread every day, which I ate until six years old. Besides bread and breast milk, I didn't have many other foods simply because there was no food available. We couldn't afford healthy foods and had to wear old used clothes given to us by other people.
Everyone looked down on my mum because she was a single parent, and because of that and struggling alone, mum tried to kill herself. When I was young, mum was carrying me on her shoulders, crying, and she didn't want to live in this world and said that she has to die. To my mum, I was a god. There was a hope that one day everything would change and become easier. As days passed and I grew older at around two years old, I lived a playful life because I couldn't do anything other than playing full time.
My first job was when I was around four years old. Mum and I stayed in a place where I would work cleaning. I washed vessels and learned how to clean by watching my mum. After that, my mum joined work in Gokaldas exports which was a life-changing moment for mum and me.
Mum spent every day as a hardworking day. Gokaldas is a fashion company which is located in Bengaluru, India. My mums' jobs primarily consisted of laying fabric, cutting, sewing, quality checking, washing, ironing, finishing clothing, design, embroidery, printing, quilting, and Polyfill, which is stuffing objects like pillows and other garments.
Some days Passed when a miraculous festival came called Ayudha Pooja, a Hindu festival traditionally celebrated in India. The term Ayudha Pooja means 'Worship of Instruments'. It was a life-changing event where there was a small game in the factory based on choosing the correct letter, and by god's grace, mum got the opportunity. I don't know why it was a life-changing moment because I was a baby, but to mum, it was special.
School education in India
Mum took me to several schools by a factory where she worked, and there was a free school called Christel House India, and the free education and meals they gave to me were life-changing. It is because of them that I am still here. The first day, I cried a lot because I didn't understand why I had to go to school. I tried to refuse to go, but mum came with me, and the school offered us a free bus.
The bus stop was very far from where we were living, but mum would put me on her shoulders and walk for 4km from our home to the bus stop. She would leave me at the bus stop, and I would travel to school alone. I was crying a lot because it was my first time leaving mum and travelling on my own.
As I boarded the bus and saw many different kids, I felt special and decided to sit at the driver's side because I love to be the leader, and at the front, the views were amazing. I used to cry a lot on the bus, but my first at school was excellent. When I first introduced myself to everyone, I would say honestly that I wanted to become a pilot, astronaut, navy officer, etc., but I was so small and couldn't decide.
Poor health living in India
On my birthday in childhood, I was excited to go to the shop and buy a small bar of chocolate, and as I crossed the road, a bike hit me. Before I could eat it, I was bleeding, and I haven't celebrated my birthday since. Then another bad day happened. When I was sleeping, both of my legs started to shake, and from my mouth, a type of saliva came, and I didn't know what it was, but it was part of my health defect.
The school took me to a nearby hospital they declared that my heart was weak. I had seizures all the time, and I had to wear socks because the cold would make my legs go solid frozen at times. After some days passed, I took strict medications from the doctor, and it helped me. When I attended school, I would wear two sets of clothes for the entire week. My mum would wash them in the nighttime.
During school time, everyone laughed at me and teased me because I come from a low-income family and, it made me feel like a joker. At that time, instead of feeling sad, I decided I wanted everyone to be happy and let them tease me and to be honest, I used to get angry sometimes, but every time my mum came in front of my mind, I'm like this always.
I try to be a kind-hearted and lovely sweet, and funny person. All the people around me in school and at home would laugh and tease me because we are poor. Even though I couldn't afford anything, my mum would still work hard day and night in factories to bring us home some rice and curry.
Today, any food I have is because of Ryan, Sadie, and everyone who donated to me in the crowdfunding campaign.
Ravi’s story started in Bangalore, India on November 7th 2001. He was born into a low-income family, in which his mum worked in factories during the day and cared for him when possible. His father left when he was extremely young, which forced his mum to work full-time whilst raising a child.
As a child, he attended a free school named Christel House, who cared for him whilst his mother was at work. Though she worked hard to bring in an income, the food she could afford was focused on rice and instant noodles which meant Ravi did not have the nutrients he needed to thrive. This eventually resulted in malnutrition and severe heart problems at only 19 years old.
These problems cause him to often find blood in his saliva as well as consistently shake and often faint. Although Ravi wants to improve his diet, he simply doesn’t have the financial support to afford anything other than rice. As a result, he remains malnourished and unable to pull himself out of poor health and financial ruin.
As Ravi has grown older, his situation has only become worse. COVID-19 has hit India extremely hard, placing those already in poverty into even worse situations. Currently, Ravi is living in dire conditions. He currently has no access to any sanitary system and therefore uses a hole in the floor as his toilet. To keep himself clean, he must sit on the floor and use bleach power and water over himself. This powder is further damaging not only his heart, but also his skin and lungs.
If this wasn’t bad enough, Ravi is also struggling to gain access to clean water. Much of the water in his local neighbourhood is contaminated with not only bacteria and viruses, but also metals and arson. While the bacteria are usually killed through boiling the water, the metal and arson cannot be removed so easily. As a result, Ravi is forced to risk his life every day to simply stay hydrated.
To resolve his problems with water, he would need a water filter installed to keep the water clean from harmful substances. At the moment, this simply isn’t an option. For now, he will continue drinking water from any place he can, often resorting to wastewater pipes when days are particularly hard.
How we are helping
At Carved Culture we always do our very best to help those in need. We believe that by simply helping one person, you can help improve society as a whole. We are currently sending Ravi the food packages he needs to help get his body functioning as it should. Our packages contain all the vital nutrients he needs to function normally, allowing him to live a more fulfilled life and support the community around him. Here are the contents of our first package:
Growing up on a diet consisting of rice and noodles meant that Ravi was missing out on a mineral we all need to thrive: calcium. Milk powder allows him to begin introducing calcium into his diet, which will help to improve the strength of his bones and heart. Due to the hot climate of India and without access to a fridge, it is impossible to store natural milk. Milk powder will ensure Ravi has over 3 months of milk to implement in his diet.
Cherry active Juice
This particular product was chosen due to its high level of antioxidants. In total, it has over 750 Montmorency cherries, which is the equivalent of several fruits and vegetables. It’s very easy to make, only needing 2 tablespoons in a glass of water to consume. We hope this helps to boost Ravi’s immune system.
Beetroot is extremely nutrient-dense and is not widely available throughout many areas of the globe. In particular, they provide the body with several nutrients including fiver, folate, vitamin B, manganese, potassium, iron and vitamin C. We hope that with these shots, Ravi can help to improve his blood circulation and lower his blood pressure. This will help him throughout daily life when completing chores and supporting the community.
High-quality Cocoa Powder
Though we commonly associate Cocoa with chocolate, it actually has many benefits. It’s extremely rich in iron and fibre and also provides caffeine that can act as a mood booster. Though not essential, we hope that this will help to improve Ravi’s mental health as well as provide him with the opportunity to taste chocolate for the first time.
Ravi informed us that he had never tried fish before, often needed early due to its natural Omega-3 content. This oil is essential for brain development and also supports bone health and liver functionality. Ravi said that around once a month he gets to have meat, though this is almost always chicken as it’s all he can afford. We have sent him some tinned sardines so that he can improve his overall protein intake, whilst enjoying Omega-3 in his diet.
With such a nutrient deficit diet, it’s almost impossible for Ravi to get all the nutrients he needs to survive. To provide him with more nutrients on a daily basis, we sent him a large pack of multivitamins. This will help to significantly improve his overall vitamin intake, which over time will help his body to recover from the diet he has been forced to eat his whole life.
Although we are doing our very best to help Ravi, sending parcels to India is extremely expensive. At the moment, we are sending him up to 2kg in food to help him survive. With your help, we can begin to increase the amount we send and help Ravi begin living a somewhat normal life. A life that all too many of us take for granted.
We understand that there are millions of individuals stuck in Ravi’s position and want to help as many as possible. We will begin by supporting Ravi Kumar and his mother with monthly parcels, then we will be able to support more individuals both in Ravi’s community and throughout India. Despite Ravi being bullied by the students at school, I got a reward as a good boy from teachers. I love playing tennis, badminton, running races, and cycling.
When I saw my mum working hard, I felt the same pain and responsibilities began to appear in my life. Then I started to get more beatings from everyone at school. The other students saw me as a comedian, but for me, everyone is my friend even if they don't like me. When I was at school, there was a single lonely tree, and it became my favourite spot. I used to sit there and watch the sky, the roads, buses, trucks, and everything.
Next to the school was an airport, and all the planes flew past. I love aeroplanes, even though I have never been in one. They would offer two meals in school and give me a glass of milk, but they stopped doing it as I became older. After school, I went on to study tech in college and then a course to get a public certificate so that I could join those that helped me in England.
I feel that being poor is my fate, but Ryan (Who I consider my brother) taught me to use everything I have to change my future. I listened to his teachings, and today I'm able to eat three meals with nutrients, fruits, etc.
Speaking to ryan for the first time
I saw a post on the Carved Culture Facebook page and watched a video on their YouTube channel. I gave them an idea of how they could improve their video, and then I added Ryan.
After speaking to Ryan for the first time, I felt hyped and sad after realising that a family loved me. As a friendship formed, we continued speaking day and night. One day he asked me to send him a cooking video in exchange for ten pounds. After telling my mum, she cried because she felt that no one has ever helped us.
I made a cooking video but didn't send it with audio. Ryan asked if I could do articles, then I made my first articles, akki roti and dosa. I felt scared to write articles for a website where hundreds of people read it.
I told Ryan about my heart condition, and he wanted to help improve my health. After speaking to mum, she told me to work for them and do anything to repay them for the food and medicine. As I didn't have a bank account, Ryan couldn't pay me, so instead, he put together healthy foods in a package, and when I received it from the post office, I video called him to show me opening the box with tears in my eyes. The doctors had previously told me that I would only be able to live another three years with my current health condition and malnutrition.
We continued speaking for over a year, and my health has improved massively. We made a fundraiser showing my living conditions. In India, we don't have anyone else, just family. My dad ran away when I was six months old. I don't know where he is. After working with Ryan on articles, I started getting more ideas for Carved Culture.
Ryan suggested coming to England, and I felt like I can't even eat food. I don't have any financial support. When I was sad and crying, I would message Ryan. The truth is that I didn't have any intention to come to England because I hadn't seen the world, my mum raised me, I was physically unfit and had heart problems.
I had to drop out of college because I couldn't afford to pay their fee structure. I decided to come to England so that I could go and work for Carved Culture. I want to thank all of those people that have helped me improve my health. I promised Ryan that I would come to England, so I have made it my goal step by step.
The first thing I needed to do was improve my health, become happy, work hard, and do the public exam to get a visa and travel to England with a study visa in the hopes of getting a sponsorship visa to become a permanent resident.
India seems to be beautiful, but the people are mixed of both good and bad. In some parts of India, people maintain religions like Hinduism, Muslim, and Christianity. Even though I have been suffering, people in India do not help me, but when I was in death bed, Ryan and his family, and those who donated helped mum and me.
My mum and I have been staying in a rented house for the past year. Mum works long hours in a hospital for about 70 pounds per month, but there is no money left with the cost of rent and electricity. The owner has tried many times to kick us out of the house even after paying the rent. We are searching for a home by working hard and saving up for a deposit of 1000 pounds.
My dream is to somehow finish my studies in India and go to England and meet Ryan and his family. I want to hug them, work together, build our family home and make our company the most famous company in the world. I want to help everyone in need, Ryan bought me a laptop, and from that, my life started. I am currently writing blogs to repay him, and I am going to write more blogs to save up money and come to Brighton to bring our ideas to life. After I come, I will bring my mum as she is the only person I have got in India.
What Coronavirus is like in India
I lived in the hospital for two weeks as part of self-isolation due to mum and I having Coronavirus. I used the nurses' wifi to write a part of this article. Mum got Covid from working in a hospital. I called Ryan and mum told me to not say anything to him about the virus, but I had to be honest with him.
As I told him, I saw my mum's tears. My hands started shaking, and I dropped the phone to the floor. The screen cracked and the glass shattered in pieces. Later on, I couldn't communicate with Ryan, but I took all the essentials from home (Laptop, charger, and books for studying) and went to the hospital. Doing the coronavirus test was awkward as the doctor took a pointy plastic stick and put it into the nose and again in the mouth near the tonsil.
Mum and I tested positive, and now we are both self-isolating in a room. I could have stayed in a separate room for isolation, but I didn't want mum to be alone. I feel that she gave me birth, and so even if death is possible. I want equality, and I had to stay with mum to care for her. Whilst I am in the hospital, I am writing blogs to send to Ryan. A nurse is helping me by sharing her wifi connection.
Disclaimer: Muthu Ajith Kumar is his birth name given to him by his dad, but his dad did not stick around when he was little. He decided to change his legal name to Ravi Kumar.
After I left the hospital, I had daily breathing issues and would have to take medicines. I wanted to continue my studies as a private student to practice for mock exams and private tuition. My days went from the morning with online classes at 6 am, which were conducted via Zoom. In the hospital, I had to wake up early in the morning, around 5:45 am, where mom and I were in a small room. I had two or three meals per day as a patient. Mum had to take a holiday from her work to look after me. My mum is a hardworking person.
She used to work in a private hospital where she got a 7k rupees salary per month (about 70 pounds). She had a minor accident that led her to stay in ICU for four weeks. She also had covid, but she had a severe health problem because she had an accident which led her to go to the hospital. She was in a painful situation with her spinal cord; she stayed in ICU for three weeks then came to the inpatient ward for a week. Then mom was admitted to hospital by neighbours. Even now, mum is still repaying her medical bills, which is above £300.
When I was staying at home and mum was not there, Ryan helped me buy costly groceries. He bought a kettle so that I could make instant food when there was no gas. After getting admitted to the hospital, I couldn't call Ryan because I had broken my moto G5S+ mobile phone. The device was used to write blogs, have conversations with Ryan, and continued online classes.
I contacted Ryan and told him everything from a nurses phone. Mum got better and came to the hospital with the laptop and food, and I continued to write blogs and have a conversation with Ryan and his family. Then after a few days, Ryan got me a new phone called Redmi 9a, a replacement phone for my Moto g5s plus.
I continued to study, work and maintain myself in the hospital. Then after a few days, I came home, and there was a bit of conversation going on with the owner, which led to a fight. Mum and I went to the hospital to take medicine, bathe, and clean the clothes. Mum went back to work, and I wrote blogs and studied for the public examinations at home.
The public examinations are essential, and the official exams for students are for those who wish to go to a university. I started to study and repaid a little money to Ryan in the form of blogs. We had another horrible fight with the house owner because he told us to vacate the house soon as his sisters family would occupy the home. We tried managing everything by staying at the hospital.
I had some online classes, but I couldn't write any notes due to my handshake problem. I sat quietly watching the online classes via the zoom app. The days were so bad that mom had to go to the house to bring clothes to wash them, and then we had to sleep in the corner of the room where mum and I were isolated from others.
One day, the house owner screamed at us about giving him the rent of 70 pounds, but we didn't have the money because mum had taken time off work to look after me. The owner decided to turn our power off until we paid him back.
Our neighbours said they would help us by paying the rent but said please pay us back soon. We thought the issue was over, but the problem got worse. The neighbours asked for the money back every day, but I couldn't give them the money because I didn't have it, and even though mum was working, she was still repaying her medical bills. The neighbours began doing the same as the owner turning the power off and being abusive, screaming and shouting.
Out of desperation, mum asked everyone she knew for money, and eventually, a kind lady offered to lend the money to us, which we then gave back to the neighbour.
Taking the public exam
I thought if I pass the examination, I can get a scholarship, earn money, and repay Ryan. I joined free tuition in February and only had four months to study. The official exam was approaching, with its date being set to the 19th July 2021 at 10.30 am.
The Principal told me to join better tuition to increase my chances of passing the exam, but I couldn't afford it. The tuition costs about one lakh rupees for one year. After that, the Principal decided to pay for me to do the exam and then he called me every day asking me to return the money. He told me to bring my certificates as he needed them for the exam. I trusted him, and even though Ryan told me not to give them to him, I didn't listen to him, and then the Principal refused to give them back until I gave him the money.
For months, he asked me for money, but I didn't have any. I tried to ignore his calls, and one day, the homeowner came to the house screaming and shouting at mum and me. I took Ryan's advice and called the police, but they took money as a bribe and brought me to the police station when they came. I felt so humiliated.
The Principal kept calling me constantly, threatening me with the police, and angrily turning up at home. With both people (The homeowner and the Principal) making my life a living hell, I began writing articles for work so that we could go ahead with a plan to keep them off my back.
Eventually, Ryan brought him a phone from Amazon India, and I have to pay Ryan back by writing articles for him. Soon I will need to save enough money to move out of our home and find somewhere else to live, but I need money to move to a new home because of the deposit cost. I can't afford the deposit with mums current salary. She can only just about afford to pay the rent. We don't have enough money for food. Whilst, not everyone in India lives this way, this is how we live.
India in a nutshell
India is a lovable country that has lots of religious people. It is famous for the spices and beautiful places such as the Taj Mahal. India is like other countries. Every person in India has a different life story that has positives and negatives in it. The wealthiest people in India can get richer, but the poor people will struggle and barely eat one meal per day. I am scared of many things, but the wild dogs are horrifying. They will bark and chase people.
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