Muna’s day began with the chirping of birds. Every morning, he set out in the bylanes of Bhubaneswar with a bag on his shoulder and no sir that was not a school bag. The bag he carried was a rag picking bag. Muna was a rag picker fending for himself and contributing to the meagre family income by picking up junk. The lanes he worked in were shady which the city dwellers didn’t like to frequent. But little Muna hardly had any other options in life.
This was until Save the Children intervened. Upon learning about Muna’s life, we got him enrolled in the National Child Labour School, at Kargil Basti in Airport Area, Bhubaneswar, a special school meant to cater to street children and those working as child labourers.
A new phase in Muna’s life started there. An extremely vivacious and forthcoming boy, he started cementing friendships with other children right from his early days in the school. After a few days, Muna’s joy knew no bounds. Three other buys who used to go rag picking with him — Raju, Ramesh, and Anil – joined him in the school. His two brothers followed suit. Muna now was a part of a close-knit family in the school and displayed his mettle in academics.
Together the four rag pickers made full use of the new lease of life in school. These boys, who were losing their childhood on the streets of Bhubaneswar, started finding it meaningful. After studying for two years in the National Child Labour School, Muna left it for pursuing formal education.
He now studies in class 6 in Aerodrome Colony UGUP school. His teacher says that he’s one of the brightest students in the class. His father now drops him to school every day and Muna is loved by his classmates for his happy-go-lucky nature.
From being a rag picker to school student, Muna has come a long way indeed. He’s a well-informed individual now and has a very positive attitude towards life. He wants to continue studying and get a nice job in future.
Not all children in India are as fortunate as Muna (try and weave in the number of child labourers in India). All children, irrespective of their religion, social status and gender should get quality education. Save the Children runs a range of programmes focusing on mapping out-of-school-children, creating Inclusive and Learner Friendly Environments for children, supporting the establishment of right set of infrastructure in government schools along with a plethora of other activities.
Note: This article was originally published here.Â