by Father Joaquim Fernandes
MUMBAI, AUGUST 25, 2015: Mumbai, August 25, 2015: Sachin Tendulkar's batting and sheer hunger for runs has left an indelible mark on cricket lovers worldwide. His Test and ODI numbers as so staggering, that it's conceivable some of those records may never be broken.
Now, with his glittering cricketing career behind him, India's favourite icon – Tendulkar – has made it a point to give back to a nation, what the nation gave to him - love.
Tendulkar visited Shelter Don Bosco, Matunga on August 25 and met the scores of disadvantaged children, who are cared for and loved by the Salesians of Don Bosco.
The batting maestro, who is Aviva India's brand ambassador since 2007, visited the Shelter to promote 'Aviva Early Starters Initiative' launched just last month and is aimed at inspiring lesser fortunate children to start planning their dreams early in life.
"I could start playing for India at 16 because I started preparing for it at 8. An early start led to early success and helped me reach far. Now with the Aviva Early Starters Initiative, I am looking to give an early start to children's careers and turn their big dreams to reality," Tendulkar said.
The Early Starters initiative will take forward Aviva India's award-winning 'What's Your Big Plan' campaign. Aviva India will provide 20 children an opportunity to live their dream profession and mentor them to become stars.
Some of the street children present got the opportunity to ask Tendulkar some questions.
One of the Shelter boys asked, 'How do you become a dreamer and a star?'
Tendulkar answered, "You need to have a passion in life and coached by the right people to achieve success. You need to be dedicated and with endurance, discipline and sheer hard work you will be what you want to be."
He then presented five children with an autographed bat. The memento, is hoped, will encourage and inspire those present to play the game of life and fulfil their dreams to be good and honest citizens.
The past pupils of Shelter Don Bosco too came to witness this mega event and each one of them had a story to tell.
Pupils like Arjun Singh - a native of Odisha - left his family and home at a very young age and reached Mumbai by train. He was picked up by the staff of Shelter Don Bosco and nurtured by the Salesians of Don Bosco.
At Shelter Don Bosco, he was sent to school, college and presently he is completing his fourth year of Engineering studies at Don Bosco Engineering College, Kurla and resides at Don Bosco, Borivli.
"Everything I have achieved is due to the Salesian fathers and the staff of Shelter Don Bosco who have been hand-holding me and mentoring me all these years. I plan to work in the IT sector and become and asset to the Indian nation" Arjun said.
Don Bosco's system of Education - through reason, religion and loving kindness - has given the spark to disadvantaged children to achieve the impossible dream; despite the odds they still find the light to seek truth, justice, peace and forgiveness.
While Sachin will be the chief mentor for these children, other renowned personalities - like Doctor Naresh Trehan, chef Kunal Kapur, fashion designers Shantanu & Nikhil, RJ Naved and artist Alka Raghuvanshi - will also be a part of the Early Starters mentorship initiative.
Father Gregory Almeida, Rector of Shelter Don Bosco, was thanked immensely for co-ordinating this event with Aviva and making dreams turn into reality for the disadvantaged children in the city of Mumbai.