Warmth, from winters spent on streets

He came to the city as a labourer, slept on the streets and rose to become a businessman; now Yogiraj Swami makes lives of people like him easier

In monsoons and winters, whenever there were raids on any establishment near the streets we slept on, we ran after police jeeps pleading with the cops to round us up so that we could have a warm and dry place to sleep, at least for the night," recalls Yogiraj Swami.

He has left the rigours of streetlife far behind and runs a business of his own, but his first-hand experience of streetlife was so chilling that he turned to social work. He helps in making lives easier for people who come to the city in search of jobs.

His social initiative began small, but over the years earned appreciation from various quarters, including two consecutive Presidents of the nation.

A modestly furnished house in Charkop serves as the headquarters for his movement. Swami, an unassuming man of medium height, always smiling, can be seen walking around the house, talking to people, taking calls, always ready to help.

For all the importance he gets, he never fails to address everyone as 'sahab' or 'sir'.

The 42-year-old social worker rose from a daily wage labourer to a civil contractor. He decided to work for hundreds of immigrants who come to Mumbai every day looking for jobs.

"I came to Mumbai in 1984," Swami says. "For ten years I worked on daily wages and spent the nights on the streets. I worked at Indira Docks for three years after which I moved to Khar and started working at construction sites," he says.

He started as a mason and moved up the ladder, amassing experience and making friends and contacts at every step. In twenty years, he saved enough to start a small business. The money and the contacts he made helped him get construction related works. He also supplied labourers at construction sites.

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