One of the best things about traveling is getting to see and experience firsthand how other people live their day-to-day lives, for better or for worse. Sometimes, you’re so moved by what you see in the moment that you snap a pic with your phone. That is exactly what Dick Smith did upon coming across a homeless family living under a bridge in Vadodara, India. When he got home a few weeks later he showed his friend Chris Bray (below) the photo of the family and asked if he would help him send them aid.

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The picture includes a little girl wearing nothing but a pink bracelet, and it set the stage for a real life mission impossible. Dick felt such empathy for this family and really wanted to see if there was any way he could help provide them shelter. He also hoped to fund the girl’s education. Knowing full well that, by this point, they could be anywhere, and that they might not even want his help, he still wanted Chris to try.


Chris agreed to look for the family, and shortly after, he and his wife Jess were off to India. All they had to work with was a distant photo of the family and a Google Maps location. Making their hunt even more challenging, the girl and all her family were looking the other way in the picture.

The receptionist at the hotel they were staying at, fortunately, agreed to act as a translator and joined them in their hunt to find this little girl.


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On day two they located the bridge in the photo but there was no one to talk to.

They next went to a local bank, where they spoke with a manager they knew. He introduced them to Dr. Chellani, who also agreed to help them out.


They started asking around and a woman recognized the girl in the pink bracelet. She directed them to the girl’s mother, who called for her daughter, playing just a short distance away.


They found her! That’s 8 year old Divya. They were so excited to see she was still wearing the pink bracelet!




You can imagine how overwhelmed the unsuspecting family was by this generosity. Divya was initially very shy (perhaps out of fear that she was actually in trouble) but they reassured her that nothing was wrong and told her the story of the photo taken from the train. They explained that they were looking for her because someone wanted to help her.

The family had been living under the bridge for 12 years. Divya had spent her entire life there and was even born there, without the help of a nurse. Her father worked as a day labourer but wasn’t earning enough to afford a house while also raising three children. They decided to wait for him to come home before discussing how they could help Divya and her family.


On the afternoon of day 2 in Vadodara India, the small family shyly walked into the bank manager’s office and sat down.

After chatting with the father, it became immediately apparent that he was working hard but still simply unable to make ends meet. Chris said in his Facebook album that ” he seems like a genuine, hard working man, loves his family, and just struggling to get ahead. Thankfully it seems they weren’t under the bridge because he has some hardcore addiction or something – they seem like the perfect family not only in need of some assistance, but able and willing to be helped.”


They showed Divya’s family a photo of Dick and Pip, the couple responsible for this truly amazing meeting.

Chris and Jess were grateful to be the bearers of such generous and life changing news. Dick explains “that [he] wanted to pay rent for them to move into a house, help Divya get a good education, help the father earn a better wage to help them start to help themselves etc.”

They set up a bank account in Divya’s name with her mother as the guardian so that Dick could transfer money into the account every month. Since they didn’t have any form of ID and couldn’t sign their own name, the bank took their thumbprints on the form.
A formal contract was also written up to specifiy what the funds would be used for (rent and furthering the girls education). The contract also mentioned that the funds would be provided for a minimum of 2 years, after which the contract would be reviewed (although the plan is for it to continue for more than 10 years). As an incentive to Divya’s parents continue her education, a clause was added specifying that the funds would be stopped if Divya stopped attending school.
To start things off, they deposited enough rent money for 3 months into the bank account. Next, they went shopping for clothing and school supplies.

This is the school she will attend. Dick will also be making a significant donation to the school.


Divya holds a photo of Dick and Pip, her brand-new benefactors.


Mission completed. Chris and Jess head back to the airport after their goodwill adventure.


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