The Optimist Citizen

Once a homeless himself, this man is now empowering thousands of kids on Calcutta streets

Arup Sengupta spent his childhood hungry and hopeless on the streets of Kolkata. He was rejected by society for contracting TB. Until Mother Teresa gave him a new life.

Eliminate sufferings of life or have the strength to face them and live to fullest, what would one yearn for when struck with smiting from misfortunes of life? Mr Arup Sengupta dared to face trials of life and rose victoriously.

The life-changing journey of Mr.Arup Sengupta began in the year 1968. He lost his father, his mother turned to alcohol to cope, and his elder sister began working to support the family. However, the vital blow was when he contracted Tuberculosis. His neighbours got wind of the illness, and he was thrown out of the locality, just how COVID-19 patients are shunned today. He was left on streets, abandoned and hopeless. Until one day, he was rescued by Mother Teresa. After two months of recovery under Mother’s care, he stepped onward to build a new life. 

Arup Sengupta

Though Arup Sengupta had lost everything, yet, he had been given a second chance at life. He did odd jobs to support his education. Upon finishing college studies, he went on to work in the corporate world for more than 45 years across India. Post-retirement, Arun returned to his home city after twenty years, only to see poverty and lament on the streets of Kolkata. It was like a flashback of his childhood on the streets.


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Arup knew he had to do something. He was there once and was rescued by a godmother. Now, it was his responsibility to be a godfather. On the New Years Eve, 2016, while the world prepared to welcome the forthcoming year, Arup was out on streets, for he had different plans. Along with his wife and few colleagues, he distributed 200 blankets to the homeless kids sleeping on the pavements. A personal wish took the form of a closed group campaign that night. Furthermore, in no time, it ripped into the organization we now know as Notun Jibon. The NGO became a Trust in Feb 2019 and registered in Kolkata. Initially, the chief aim of the organization was to teach underprivileged kids.

Arup started visiting selected roadside slums/ homeless kids and started teaching them. Every day, he would get out in the morning and visit all these streets where he would find homeless children. He would teach them, play games with them and feed them. Over the last three years, Arup has extended its relief network to several slums throughout the city and has served over 3,991 lives.

Besides helping poor and unfortunate kids living on Calcuttas roads, Arup and his team have rescued several sex workers from Kalighat. In 2019, Notun Jibon set up an evening school right in the centre of Kalighat teaching of hundreds of children of sex-workers. The school starts with evening snacks, followed by sports, academic classes, art space and concludes with wholesome dinner. The organization has employed eight rescued-women mentioned as the Nari Shakti team who manage Notun Jibon and work in various roles. Besides team Nari Shakti, nine men work with the organization voluntarily. The organization has worked on building self-help groups for women in distress in the area.


Notun Jibon continues to work, bearing in mind the safety standards. The organization provides a weekly assortment of three kilos of rice, potato, dal, and mustard oil to the children who are unable to attend classes. Furthermore, their loving wings have spread open to the Sunderban region, distributing food to the ones in distress. Arup would say, “We have fed 35,000, not helped.” Sunderban women are taught how to make mosquito net by Team Nari Shakti, and beneficiaries are widows of fishermen who lost lives to corona.

Arup Sengupta
Arup Sengupta

Fortunately, people have always been kind enough to fuel the engine of charity and empowerment. Arup has accomplished to earn many well-wishers over the years. His friends come forward to graciously support him, along with his corporate friends and CSR funds. All his life savings have gone into this organization. Life is excellent, as per Mr Arup. Though, sadness struck when he lost his wife on 23rd December 2019. Not to our surprise, he carried on and resumed working the very next day. Arup believes God does not want him upstairs as he fears he will bully God. Thus, the legend lives to serve, and the ones he helped his legacy live life rather than survive.


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