This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Abhishek Jha. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Visit To A Children’s Home In Delhi Reveals Kids As Young As 12 Addicted To ‘Solution’

More from Abhishek Jha

A group of children huddled on a carpet in a courtyard.
A group of children playing inside a children’s home in Old Delhi’s Kashmere Gate area. Photo credit: Abhishek Jha

It was a winter afternoon – and behind a locked gate at the end of a quiet lane in Old Delhi, a child started crying. He was asking to be let off. When the gate was opened to let me in and then locked behind me, the howling got louder. I was told that he wanted to sniff a solution, the glue used to fix tires – a drug that apparently many young children with working class parents in the area get addicted to.

Rohan* (12) has been living for 31 days now at this children’s home near Kashmere Gate in Delhi when I met him. He had been sniffing from the ‘tube’ for 3-4 months, before the centre’s outreach worker (ORW) found him. “I found him completely unconscious. On the road,” Gaurav Nigam, the ORW, told me.

Rohan says that his friends told him that the solution would make him feel good, and he started using it – a reply repeated by almost everybody at the home. Didn’t anybody ever stop him? “Kisi ne nahi bola. Peti Market me kaun keh raha hai? (Nobody told me to. Who is going to say anything in Peti Market?)” he says. Peti Market is a locality in the Angoori Bagh area near the Red Fort.

While the exact components of industrial adhesives are not disclosed, they are known to contain volatile hydrocarbons – and are used as an inhalant to get high because they come cheaper. Prolonged inhalant abuse can lead to a withdrawal syndrome.

But Rohan did want to give up his addiction because he was afraid that somebody might harm him. “Khopche me koi kaat dega. Jaise andhere me aata hai na koi, kidney-widney sab nikaal ke bech denge (Somebody can cut me up in some dark corner. You know, somebody could come in the dark and sell my kidneys),” he told me, chuckling. Since he came to the centre, he has not had any cravings.

He used to work at a brick kiln, loading and unloading bricks. He and his brother used to earn around ₹700 in a day doing this work. His father washes cars at a body shop and his mother works there too. He told me that he hasn’t met them since he left Loni, a town in UP’s Ghaziabad district. He gives me an address of his home but repeats that he hasn’t met them in 3-4 months, since the time he came to Delhi.

When it comes to reuniting these children with their parents, Manjeet Kaur, who heads the centre, told me that they do what the Child Welfare Committee (CWC), empowered by the Juvenile Justice Act, asks them to. If the committee asks them to contact the family, they do so and produce the child before the committee. Depending on the situation of the parents and their submission before the committee, either the child is restored or stays back at the centre and goes to school.

Children without a home, working in contravention of labour laws, living on the streets, abandoned or found vulnerable and likely to be inducted into drug abuse, etc. qualify as children ‘in need of care and protection’. A children’s home provides care, treatment, education, etc. to such children.

Sometimes, Kaur told me, the parents insist that the child needs to work to support the family. “We counsel them then,” she says. “There are some parents who get so fed up with their children that even when we ask them to take the child back (who will take care of children better than their parents), they don’t listen to us. They say that the child runs away all the time – sometimes they steal – and that they don’t want to keep them,” Kaur says.

Kaur also told me that the children who get addicted to the solution are also treated according to the CWC’s directions. They are counselled first if they don’t crave for it. Or else, they are sent to a rehab centre.

The child whom I had seen crying on an earlier afternoon ran off minutes later, climbing the boundary wall. The erring worker has been reprimanded, I was told later. Nigam says that even when parents take the children back, he often finds them again in the nearby Peti Market, sniffing the solution.

*Name changed

You must be to comment.

More from Abhishek Jha

Similar Posts

By shweta srivastava

By Kalpana Shah

By Meharmeet Kaur Thandi

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below