Nine-year-old Lakhan Kale was regularly tied to a pole at a bus stop in Mumbai by his grandmother who feared he'd walk into traffic while she was at work. Lakhan is mute and deaf who also suffers from cerebral palsy with only his grandmother to take care of him. News of Lakhan and his grandmother's plight reached the internet and the people of the world took off with emails, blog posts, Facebook statuses and tweets with everything from questions about Lakhan's condition to donations towards his rehabilitation. It didn’t take long before Lakhan's story went viral. It was reported on Thursday that Lakhan and his grandmother are being transferred to Samata Shikshan Prasarak (SSPM), a non-government organization in India which caters to deaf and mute children.
Not only is SSPM taking Lakhan in without any charge they have also offered his grandmother a job. Lakhan's grandmother Sakubai told CNN that Lakhan's father passed away four years ago and that his mother abandoned him and his sister ran away soon after. Alok Polke, who runs SSPM stated “His father died, his mother and sister abandoned him. He's left alone. What happens after his grandmother?” SSPM will provide a home and care for Lakhan and Sakubai who until now have lived on a bare patch of pavement behind the bus stop that Lakhan was so often tied to.
Polke went on to discuss the severe lack of specialized care in India and that are many, many more like Lakhan on the streets that are in desperate need of shelter. He mentioned that while there are some homes for deaf children who are “deaf and dumb because they're easier to look after” while children like Lakhan require more attention and engagement. Mumbai has only one government sanctioned center for children with special needs and there was no room for Lakhan in the already overcrowded facility. Polke says that Lakhan will be the first mentally disabled student to live in the SSPM hostel which until now has served only children with auditory or speech impairments.
Lakhan settled into his new home almost immediately as within an hour of arrival he was already playing with the other children, each who has a special need, in a game of tag.