Raised in a Christian family, Mr. Ruby Nakka, who started the The Hope House, trusted his intuition and staunchly believed in his calling. “I used to live in a hut in Adilabad, Andhra Pradesh. The roof used to leak when it rained, and we had no electricity, no money. I had three sisters. My grandmother used to stay in Karimnagar, where she used to work with a Christian missionary group.”
His father was too poor to afford anything for the children, so he sent Ruby to live with his grandmother. Ruby studied at a local school until his grandmother retired on a Rs.20 monthly pension. Unable to pay for Ruby’s studies or his upkeep, she enrolled him into a Christian charity, which took care of his food, shelter and education.
His grandmother instilled in Ruby a good habit, which later on proved to be an important foundation. “I used to read the Bible every day as a child. The habit continued even when I was in the hostel. There is a line in the Bible that stayed with me: ‘A true Christian is one who serves orphans and widows’.”
Donors sponsored the upkeep and education of the children at the charity; in Ruby’s case it was a German gentleman. As a boy, he often wondered about his benefactor and how he was a true Christian. Later, thanks to the German scholarship, Ruby joined Christian Medical College (CMC), Vellore, to study physiotherapy.
“This was the turning point in my faith. I couldn’t speak English, although I could read and write the language. I applied and was called for the entrance test. In the given three hours, I wrote only during the last ten minutes, as everything seemed to be going over my head. I could not even pronounce the terms. When I learnt that I had actually passed, I believe it happened because a higher power was looking after me.”
Ruby was one among the 30 students who made it. His limited English seemed the biggest obstacle to passing the next step—an interview!
“Next, another miracle,” laughs Ruby. “I didn’t want to speak in English in front of others. I entered the interview hall and was disheartened when I saw an American sitting amongst the interviewers. All the questions asked were about current affairs. My only advantage was that I used to like reading Telugu newspapers. As questions were asked, I was able to answer all of them with confidence and in English! This was a sign. I had a calling and could feel a higher presence within me.”
Ruby’s only weapon was his strong, unwavering faith. He never had any money and was supported by three scholarships during his studies. After the three-year physiotherapy course, he was required to work at the college for two more years. He reminisces about the ocean of openings for physiotherapists in the United States.
“All my friends were applying as did I, ending up as a physiotherapist in the US by the early 1990s. That’s where I met my wife, also an Indian and my classmate in Phsiotherapy. Before marrying her I told her clearly about my two dreams: To get back to India and also to adopt children. She agreed. However, when I returned to India, I was shocked at the way kids were treated in a home for children I visited. They didn’t have any decent facilities.”
That revelation became the catalyst for his work. Since he was still residing in the US, Ruby asked his father-in-law to apply and register an NGO, a home for orphans, on his behalf.
“Coming back to India had its own challenges. My wife did not want to return. And honestly, neither did I. I was filled with self-doubt, which was hard to overcome. In the meantime, the NGO was registered. My father-in-law learnt of two needy girls who required help urgently, and started the orphanage in 2005 with the girls and two staff members. Slowly, things started falling in to place. My wife agreed to return to India, and we came back.”
In 2006, Ruby took over The Hope House. Being a successful physiotherapist back in the US, he had enough savings to sustain him for the rest of his life. He bought a two-acre piece of land in Vellore, where The Hope House now stands.
“We had rented a place before moving into the new building, but the landlord kept giving us trouble. At one point, we were thrown out of the house and the children had to move into another place until the new building was constructed.” In 2008, twenty-four kids moved into the newly-built The Hope House.