For Years, I Have Seen Children Begging On The Streets, But How Do I Change This?

Posted by twitashwini in #TheInvisibles
July 14, 2017
STC logoEditor’s Note: With #TheInvisibles, Youth Ki Awaaz and Save the Children India have joined hands to advocate for the rights of children in street situations in India. Share your stories of what you learned while interacting with street children, what authorities can do to ensure their rights are met, and how we can together fight child labour. Add a post today!

In December 2013, while sending my son off to school, the strong cold wind made me shiver to the bone. I gave an extra jacket to my 6-year-old son for the bus ride. Soon after, I started off for office on my Activa – still wondering if it was one of the coldest days of the year and worrying a bit about my son who usually takes off his jacket as soon as he reaches school.

As usual, I stopped my bike at the signal. As it was still a bit hazy and not quite 9 AM, it wasn’t that crowded. However, my sight was riveted on a little child of my son’s age, sitting almost naked on a road divider. I wondered who had forced this kid to sit without clothes on such a cold morning . While I was feeling cold despite wearing a warm jacket, this little kid was staring the road helplessly – with the cold hurting him so much that he just couldn’t think what to do. Who was being so cruel to this kid? I feared that he would get pneumonia.

As the signal turned green, I had to move on. This, despite the despair , helplessness and suffering on this child’s face that had brought tears to my eyes. I reached office – but I was feeling guilty for not doing anything to rescue that little child. Instead of working, I started googling to find out how I could help.

First, I found the numbers of two local orphanages and called them. Officials from both the organisations told us that they couldn’t help street children – as it was likely that the child’s parents were making him beg. In fact, the second organisation I called went even further and asked me not to get into it – because even the police is usually hand in gloves with these dangerous rackets. They told me that I shouldn’t get involved with this – especially if I had a child myself.

I was demoralised – and I feel wary of going to the police, even today. Still, I couldn’t stop worrying for this kid. So I tried calling the UNICEF’s local office but they said that they would need a written complaint. Of course, that would have meant no immediate action – so I didn’t pursue that option.

Then, I found a national helpline for missing children in Indore, where the the pictures of kids are posted. It was a different city – but I felt they were genuine and so I contacted them. The person at the other end of the line asked me to send a picture of the child – which I did not have. He also advised not to go to police, as it’s a dangerous racket. Yet another of my efforts failed.

Years later, on separate occasions, I informed CHILDLINE and even wrote to the Nobel Laureate Kailash Satyarthi. However, I saw that it didn’t help as I could still see the same kids begging – the bruises on their faces and bodies increasingly showing their misery .

I am not blaming anyone here. I am just putting forth the real face of our support system. If any of the readers can share their experiences of how they were actually able to rescue a child, I am keen to know how they did so. But I am not looking for any plain advice. I only want to learn from all your experiences.

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