When we take the time to help one another out of the simple kindness of our hearts with no expectations in return the impact we can make on each other can be astounding. No matter how big or little the gesture when we extend a helping hand to those in need we have the opportunity to change someone’s day for the better and even sometimes someone’s whole life.Source: Photo by Pixabay from Pexels
This is a story of one family, the Hanson family, who were vacationing in Goa when they met a 12-year-old boy named Gopal Vaakode who was walking over 10 miles a day selling peanuts to the tourists who were on the southwest coast of India.Source: SWNS
In 1999, when Gopal’s father passed away Gopal’s mother decided it was time for them to move on and try to find a better life. So she told Gopal to find a job, however, he did not have any education. So Gopal came up with the idea to sell peanuts on the beach. When one day he ran into a couple, Carol Thomas and Colin Hanson, and asked them if they would like to buy his peanuts. The first time around they said no but they did tell him to come back the next day. After seeing him every day they asked to take him for a meal which then turned into buying him clothes and supplies. Gopal recalls this moment saying,
“Instead of buying peanuts, they bought me lunch. They took me shopping, bought me some new clothes and supplies to take back to my family. I couldn’t express the feelings of happiness I experienced that day.“
When it was time for the family to leave and go back home to the UK both were extremely sad to part, but they had made a promise to Gopal that they would come back the next year to see him and they did! Gopal remembers the moment he saw them that very next year saying,
“One year on, I saw them walking across the beach whilst I was working my usual day. I couldn’t believe my eyes! I ran over to them and gave them a massive hug. I was 13 at the time and felt like the luckiest kid in the world.”
Life in India for Gopal consisted of some nights sleeping on the beach and other nights in a tent on the side of the road while trying to provide the best he could for his mother and three young siblings. While Gopal was selling peanuts on the beach his mother would try to collect plastic bags and bottles from the street for money.Source: SWNS
So when they bumped into one another that very next year it was the start of a lifelong bond between the Hanson family and Gopal. So much so at one point, the Hanson family asked Gopal to come to stay with them in the UK to which he agreed. The Hanson family even took it a step further by not only taking care of Gopal but his mother and three siblings too. They rented a home for his family to live, as well as, consistently sent money for food and supplies.
Around the age of 19, Gopal was staying with the Hanson family in the UK for months at a time. One day he was playing with his local cricket team at the barracks when a brigadier asked if he would join the British Army. Without hesitation, he took the opportunity as a way to repay the people and the country who had quite literally saved him and his family’s lives.Source: SWNS
He is currently a Lance Corporal in the British Army. When asked about the reason he wanted to join the army Gopal immediately thanks his second family stating,
“The main reason I wanted to join was to make my family proud and say thanks to Linda, Colin, and Carol for everything they did for me.”
“I will forever be in debt to them, but joining the army was my way of repaying them by doing something important in this world.”
Gopal now resides in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire.Source: SWNS
He lives in Mansfield with his wife Jasmine, 26, and his daughter Daisy who is seven.Source: SWNS
“There was a day when I had no food, nowhere to sleep, and nothing to look forward to in life. Now I have a loving family with an incredible wife and an amazing daughter. I really could not ask for more.”
Colin remembers the moment he had met little Gopal on the beach saying,
“He was the most charming little boy. We felt a connection with him, despite him virtually speaking no English at the time. It felt natural, and the more time we spent with him the closer we became.”
A truly incredible story of how big of an impact acts of kindness can have on someone’s life, as well as, the ripples effects spreading far and wide from Gopal’s family to Gopal joining the British Army to now having a beautiful family of his own. All because one family took the time to help a little boy on the beach trying his best to help his family stay alive by selling peanuts.
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