Fr. Placido Fonseca (Placie) has truly been a pioneer of child rights in India. He received the National Award for Child Welfare from the Government of India in 1985. He was also Chairperson of the Co-ordination Committee for Vulnerable Children (CCVC), was on the expert committee to frame the Juvenile Justice Act 2000, and also part of the think tank to develop Childline in India in collaboration with TISS.
Fr. Placie fully dedicated his life to Snehasadan and its children. In the words of the founder of Snehasadan, late Ricardo Francis – “Without exaggeration, Snehasadan is what it is today because of the work of a single Jesuit priest, Fr Placido Fonseca. He worked to create a family out of some of the legions of boys and girls who live on and off the streets of Mumbai. The street child is invisible to most of us, but Fr Placie sees them all the time”.
Fr. Placie followed up on ex-children, not only those who were doing well, but also those who were struggling. His most consoling words to the children who were going through a rough phase or who were down in the dumps were ‘Me Hu Na’(I am there). Fr. Placie never gave up on a child.
Fr. Placie had a deep spiritual side as well, spending 45 minutes to an hour in personal prayer every morning and 10 to 15 minutes every night. It is from here that he got the patience and perseverance to continue in this ministry for more than 40 years, where few others have dared to tread.
I would like to end with another phrase that Fr. Placie often said to the Snehasadan children, and I can imagine him joyfully shouting it out from heaven even at this moment – “Hum kisi se kum nahi”.
Fr. Noel Pinto, SJ