Published: 17th July 2018
Once arrested for assault, this ex-juvie is now teaching other juveniles to bake
Although Praveen Raj was initially resistant to any change, he soon started welcoming the rehabilitation process and has now moved on from his tragic past
With glove-covered hands and a muffin tray in front of him, nineteen-year-old Praveen Raj has a look of content on his face as he works in the bakery at the juvenile centre in Ayanavaram, Chennai. But a few months ago, his life had been very different.
Until last year, Praveen's life had been a mess, with no aim or goal. He had stopped going to school and all he did was smoke and drink with his friends. One day, he and his friends had promised to get someone else a drug, but they didn't manage to get it and so his friend ended up getting beaten. When Praveen saw this, he couldn't help himself and started hitting the guy back. Much harder than he should have.
That was all it took for the public to get involved. Soon, Praveen was brought by the police to the juvenile home. Praveen had been on his own for more than five years and hadn't been in touch with his parents. Although he was initially resistant to any change, Praveen soon started welcoming the rehabilitation process.
"When I came here, I felt like it was a hostel. It was pretty easy. I stayed here for four and a half months. We had a lot of games and lessons like drum lessons and bakery lessons. We had to get up in the morning, exercise, bathe, eat and study. We were also assigned work like helping in the kitchen, bakery and cleaning," says Praveen.
After serving his term, Praveen was offered a job at the centre's bakery. Now, he helps other juveniles by training them to bake. "My life is entirely different now. I don't have any of the habits I had before. I've stopped drinking and smoking or even using bad words. I hope to clear IAS some day. I am preparing for it," he says.