How it all began...

A street child in Kolkata – hungry, without shelter or protection, ill and forced to beg
Mousumi from ZUKI – fed, healthy, happy and enjoying school
Each little girl has her own bed in the new children’s home

There are approximately 300,000 children living on the streets of Kolkata today.
They live on the pavements, are forced to beg or go scavenging on the cities rubbish dumps for anything that may be sold for a few rupees in order to survive. They are frequently sold, by families unable to care for them for child labour or prostitution. Here a child’s life is sometimes worth as little as 10 Euros!

In 1994, Xavier Raj Arul bore witness to the sale of a thirteen year old girl from the slums for prostitution; a moment that was to change and shape his life forever. Having already spent his adult life helping the poor, he decided to dedicate his life and his work to helping Kolkata’s street children. Initially he took in 29 homeless children, housing them in two small clay huts. Each day he would tirelessly go from door to door, asking well to do Indians for their support, but the meagre contributions were insufficient to feed and support the children.

In 2002, a chance encounter between Xavier Raj Arul and a Viennese Psychologist, Dr. Gerhild Tanew was to change the destiny of these children and many more in the future. Dr. Tanew was so moved by what she saw, that once back in Austria she founded the charity “Zukunft für Kinder – ZUKI” (A Future for Children), together with Marlies Steinbach in order to provide Xavier Raj with funds to help him take care of the children. Since 2008 the charity is headed up by the Ö3 radio presenter, Claudia Stöckl together with Marlies Steinbach.

To date, there are approximately 250 previous street children or children from totally impoverished families living in several purpose built children’s homes and additional annexes! Here they have a roof over their heads, are fed and taken care of and are able to go to school. As such, the children are able to live the life of a child, free from the daily fight to survive and the foundations are laid for a brighter future, away from the streets, where they can live a life of dignity.

“they should be given a chance…”
Xavier Raj Arul
, now 50, initially studied Theology and Philosophy in Madras. He then went on to join Mother Teresa looking after the poorest of the poor in Kolkata’s slums where he stayed until 1994 before dedicating himself to the care of street children.
“Above all, I wanted to provide lasting help. Being able to provide children with a home and an education gives them a solid foundation for the rest of their lives”, so Xavier Raj.
“We all have a responsibility to care for the weakest in our society. The children live like animals on the streets, forced to beg and steal. Often the police call and hand over half-starved ‘bundles’, many of which are orphans or children from prostitutes unable to support them. These children should be given a chance in life, the chance to develop and blossom and to become valuable members of society”.
In 1998, Xavier established the charitable organisation ‘Missionaries of the Word’ which is today supported by “Zukunft für Kinder – ZUKI”