Vicky Roy – from picking empty bottles to lunch with Prince Edwards

Last week, I had the pleasure to listen to Vicky Roy, who is rightly been termed as a true example of rags turned riches. He narrated his quiet an interesting story in great detail starting from his running away from his home, stealing money from his uncles shirt, ( his first failed attempt and being successful in the second attempt), staying at New Delhi Railway station, picking up empty water bottles from station and near Ajmeri Gate and selling them to 3rd class category passengers at Rs 5 per bottle (which is appx 10 cents), being bullied by older boys, moving to a near by dhaba, then being approached by a salaam balak volunteer, staying at Salaam balak trust, learning photography, his “Bidai” from Apna Ghar, traveling extensively within & outside inside, various photo shoots & exhibitions and then upto being invited to Buckingham palace at lunch.

You can read his biography from his site & salaam balak trust, which I have summarized below as well.

Vicky is indeed a true example of rags turned riches & a clear demonstration of the fact that with enough passion & endevour, nothing is impossible. Here is a nice video from a French media where Vicky openly talks about his journey, passion & his love for art & travel. The video is in French, but Vicky speaks in English.

Vicky’s Biography from his site & salaam balak’s site:

Vicky is from Purulia, West Bengal. He left his home in 1999 at the age of 11, after he realized that he didn’t have the freedom to live the life he wanted and also was lacking basic facilities. He was studying in grade 6th at that time. He left his family house in Purulia and came to Bankuda- another town of West Bengal. There, he boarded Nilanchal Express and landed in Delhi.

He spent his first lonely night at New Delhi Railway Station. In the morning he was welcomed by the children already living at the railway station. He joined the group and started collecting plastic bottles as they did. He spent about 6 months living in the railway station this way. During those days, he was bullied by older boys. So, he decided to work at a dhaba-a road side restaurant, were he worked for approximately three months.

Salam Balak Trust (SBT), an organization working for street children, rescued Vicky in 1999 and enrolled him in school. Once at SBT he got opportunities that he never had before.

Dixie Benjamin, a British photographer asked Vicky to join him as an assistant on a photo shoot around Old Delhi. This is when Vicky actually got addicted to the camera and enrolled at the Triveni Kala Sangam for an intensive course in photography. Later, he joint famous portrait-specialist photographer Anay Mann as an assistant and learnt a lot from him.

Having called the streets his home, Vicky is a master at capturing the street life – he treats a subject so easy to sensationalize with great maturity and the sensitivity in his work is unparalleled. In 2007, he held his first solo exhibition titled, “Street Dream” at India Habitat Centre, supported by British High Commission. His works have been exhibited extensively in India and overseas in England and South Africa.

In 2008, Ramchander Nath Foundation (RNF) nominated Vicky for a mentorship program by the US based Maybach Foundation (MF), through which he will work on the photo-documentation of the reconstruction of the World Trade Center in New York. Out of numerous applications, from all over the world, Vicky is among the four participants and the only one from South Asia.

This is a six-month residency program and is scheduled to begin in February 2009 and Vicky will be leaving by mid-February. On his return he will hold his second solo show in Delhi. Vicky is a real-life example of courage, resilience and effective mentorship.

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