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We're here, we all have just one life to spend, but some of us create history, while some just vanish with time. We're all heading towards death, and we know nothing about it. But, before we die, we all want to do something that will stay here as a legacy. Talking about legacy? Well, it's always achieved by facing the hard times. No one has ever achieved anything without struggles, and we have learned from the past that people who've accomplished something great are the one's who've sacrificed everything.
This is the story of a common boy, a ragpicker, who went on a voyage to become uncommon. He is one of the most celebrated young photographers of India, Vicky Roy.
Pictures that you're going to see in this story are captured by none other than Vicky Roy.
His family was huge, and they were almost nine people living in a small house. He had three brothers and three sisters. And every other day one of them had to sleep empty stomach, also getting beaten by his mother was quite normal. He never played with other children and used to live with his grandparents at home while his mother and father used to go out in search of work.
Vicky Roy was a free spirit and didn't like staying at home for a long time. One day, after stealing rupees 900 from his uncle, he boarded a train to Delhi from Purulia, West Bengal. Delhi scared him, and he was crying badly when two kids spotted him alone at the railway station and asked him to go to SBT (Salaam Balak Trust), a home for young boys who've no place to go.
But, that place was always closed, and children were banned from going outside, this didn't suit his free-spirited personality and he ran away from there as well. But, destiny has some other plans for him. He once again bumped into those two kids, and this time, Vicky wasn't crying, he told them everything and those two ragpickers asked him to join them. Roy thought of it as a very good idea and started earning his pocket money from rag picking.
Vicky shares, "I used to collect plastic bottles as a ragpicker, and selling them for not more than 5 rupees was part of my daily routine. But, a police officer would stop us from doing this and used to beat us, sometimes goons would find us and used to take all our money. I was so thin and small that I couldn't do anything."
Roy also added, "I joined restaurant as a dishwasher in Ajmer during winters, and the water was so cold that my skin caught rashes and was bleeding terribly. I found one SBT volunteer, and he asked to go back to the trust. I honestly shared my story with him and told him that I don't like staying in a cage that's why I've left my home. He humbly took me to another trust called 'Apna Ghar,' where I was allowed to attend the school."
Roy wasn't that good in academics and having scored 48% in the 10th standard; he had no other choice than opting for computers and T.V. repairing course. His first meeting with photography happened here. He met a student who was undergoing a photography course and also had a chance to visit Indonesia and Sri Lanka. He didn't know that his life will never be same again.
He met Dixie Benjamin, a British filmmaker who was shooting a documentary on SBT. He genuinely asked him to become his assistant and Dixie didn't deny. The language was a barrier between these two, but somehow they managed to get along with each other. Benjamin taught him basics of photography and introduced him to aperture and lighting techniques in photography. Benjamin also gifted him an SLR camera.
It was now time for Vicky Roy to leave SBT. At the age of 18, SBT allows its children to go outside and lead a life on their own by providing them a mattress to sleep, a gas stove to cook, and some utensils. He was dreading it. But, Roy didn't give up, and he approached Anay Maan for the assistance in photography.
Anay Maan invited Vicky to live with him and became one of his mentors. His life changed overnight by learning from Anay Maan. Vicky was now spending his time in different parts of the country, in luxurious hotels, and took flights to travel.
Vicky Roy shot street children who were less than 18-years-old. "I had my first exhibition 'Street Dreams' in the year 2007, British Commission and DFID sponsored it, that was very successful." he further added, "I took my exhibition to London, South Africa, and also sold many copies of the book. I started developing an attitude of a photographer after learning a lot from these tours." By this time, Anay Maan had started treating him like a friend of his equal status.
These exhibitions had given him a lot of confidence, and he was now more ambitious than before. He took part in the competition for International Center of Photography and had a chance to win many awards and recognition globally. He won, and it led him accesses to the World Trade Centre.
His work was exhibited at WTC 7, and Roy also won the Duke of Edinburgh's award. He was also invited for the dinner at the Buckingham Palace by King Edward.
He brings out the book 'Home Street Home' at the Delhi Photo Festival in the year 2011 with the help of editor Sanjiv Shaith.
Vicky Roy has already started giving back to the society, and he collaborated with the foundation Rang and gifted them 500 books on photography. Rang foundation arranges workshops for less fortunate children, and for the kids who do not perform well in academics.
Understanding the importance of mentors like Benjamin & Anay Maan in shaping his life, Vicky Roy has now taken a 20-year-old photographer Anish under his assistance.
"Not everybody who runs away from home finds the same opportunity; I do not encourage it at all." - Vicky Roy
In 2013, Vicky took part in a National Geography Show along with seven other photographers. It was miraculous that even after staying away from his home and village all these years, someone recognized him and he started to receive a call from his villa Purulia. Vicky Roy is now back in touch with his family and siblings, and they're proud of then that even after running from home, Vicky could've become Goon or might have opted the wrong paths, but he stayed true and made the whole village proud of him.
All these beautiful pictures used in this story are captured by Vicky Roy, a ragpicker who dreamed of becoming a photographer and succeeded. He is not just a photographer, he is a story, and inspiration for the generations ahead.
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