Chaya amma with nikhil and niharika

As They Grow – a Story of Two SOFKIN Children 

Their Early Journey

SOFKIN will turn 17 years old this year! Some of SOFKIN’s children have been with us since almost the beginning and are growing into amazing young adults. This is one of our occasional blogs where we highlight their individual stories. Today we’d like you to meet Niharika and Nikhil.


Brother and sister, Niharika and Nikhil came to SOFKIN in 2010 when Niharika was 12 years old and Nikhil, 10.  Their father was an alcoholic, who did not adequately support the family. They remembered growing up without proper clothing or nutritious meals. And because their father didn’t consistently pay their school fees, the children had to keep changing schools.

To provide a more stable environment, Niharika and Nikhil’s mother took them to live with her parents. However, the grandparents were poor and the mother’s wages as a tailor weren’t enough to support the five of them. Ultimately, their grandmother heard about SOFKIN and brought the children to us.

Bumps and Bright Spots

Niharika and Nikhil reported that their initial adjustment at SOFKIN was easy. They loved being part of a warm, nurturing environment, the housemothers and other kids were very welcoming, they received new clothes and enjoyed regular nutritious meals. Niharika did miss her mother and cried at night, but she said the housemothers were very caring and supportive.

School, in contrast, was somewhat of an adjustment. Because of the disruptions in their early schooling, the siblings hadn’t learned good study habits and initially got low grades. However, with the discipline and support offered by SOFKIN, they gradually improved and became good students.

Nikhil Finds His Path

Nikhil started thinking about career choices when he was only in the 7th or 8th grade. He and Jagdish, another SOFKIN child, began experimenting and creating SOFKIN videos and flyers for events. Together they learned from each other, and Nikhil became fascinated with the field of web design.


This interest was further enhanced through Nikhil’s exposure to the Hyderabad office of PamTen, Inc. and the world of innovative information technology. Through the unique partnership between PamTen and SOFKIN, PamTen employees often volunteer to support SOFKIN events and SOFKIN kids, in turn, make informal visits to the PamTen offices. Through this additional exposure, the dream of becoming a web designer became firmly established for Nikhil.

Motivated by this career goal and supported at every step by “Amma Chaya,” Nikhil earned a diploma in Electronics and Video Engineering. This was followed by a six-month internship at PamTen in web design.

Nikhil then studied for a bachelor’s in technology degree. Because this was during the COVID pandemic, most of his classes were online. This enabled him to continue interning at PamTen for the next two years. Upon graduation, he was offered an entry level job at PamTen.

However, Nikhil felt that he had more skills and experience then was usual for an entry level position and deserved a higher salary. According to Nikhil, Amma Chaya’s response was, “Fine, interview for a higher position and demonstrate that you are qualified.” Nikhil went through a successful interview process, negotiated a higher salary, and was hired in September 2022 as an UX and UI Designer. He feels immensely proud that he has achieved his dream job.

Niharika Grows towards her Goals

Niharika, meanwhile, had career aspirations in public administration. Motivated by this career goal, and with close, ongoing support from Chaya, she earned a B.A. in Social Sciences, followed by a M.A. in Political Science.

To provide Niharika with practical skills and experience, Chaya arranged a four-month internship in HR at PamTen. Niharika then worked as the Operations Coordinator at SOFKIN for 2 years. Here she was responsible for day-to-day operations, including maintaining registers of the children at SOKKIN, overseeing the daily schedule and monitoring discipline.


In October of 2023, Niharika was hired as an HR and Operations Executive at PamTen. In this entry level role, she is receiving coaching from Prasad Tenjerla, PamTen COO and SOFKIN Board member, who has been very instrumental in her ongoing development (as well as many others.)  Niharika, too, is excited to be at PamTen and incredibly grateful for all the support she has received in pursuing her career goals.

Moving Forward

Nikhil and Niharika moved back home with their mother, which helped to improve the quality of her life. They share the goal of building a dream house for their mother.

The siblings received a Farewell ceremony that is held for all SOFKIN graduates when they move out. During this observance, their SOFKIN brothers and sisters shared memories of their times together, celebrated their accomplishments, and offered prayers for their continued success and well being.

Niharika and Nikhil are now part of the SOFKIN Alumni group, where a member of the group is at SOFKIN every weekend. They both also regularly support special events and holiday celebrations at SOFKIN.

Their advice for the younger children is to take advantage of everything that SOFKIN has to offer, that the facilities and resources at SOFKIN are beyond what many children living with they own families get to experience. So, utilize your time well and always strive to learn something new.

You can help Keep the Story Going

The story of Niharika and Nikhil highlights the multiple opportunities for growth and development offered by SOFKIN:  loving support and guidance by SOFKIN staff, tutoring and role modeling by older students, informal exposure to the business world, work experience at SOFKIN, formal internships, and close mentoring by PamTen staff if they earn a job there.  Underlying it all is the ongoing, steady guidance from Amma Chaya.

We are so grateful for the support of our dedicated donors and volunteers that make stories like that of Niharika and Nikhil possible. We welcome your ongoing contributions.

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