What Should Be The Youth Ki Awaaz So That Street Children Can Have Better Lives?

Posted by Harsh Gautam in #TheInvisibles
August 13, 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!

The youth ki awaaz (voice of the the youth) sounds interesting, but what is it? How will we use it to give street children better clothes to wear and a better education so that they can enter the mainstream? In other words, the main question is: how can we give them a better life?

We all seem to be aware of the lives the street children lead. We see them daily on the streets – picking up scraps from the roadside, at traffic signals begging for money or food and selling balloons, roses, toys, etc. In short, they play a role in our daily lives – though it is generally a cameo.

However, while we do think of them, the truth is that we do not see things from their perspective. Neither do we want to involve them in the mainstream. We only have a sense of sympathy for them no matter what their mindsets are. We always give them a penny, regardless of whether they want it or not. While we do wonder why they can’t lead better lives, the problem is that we think about this only from a sympathetic perspective.

Now, to get back to the main issue: how can we make the lives of street children better? The people who really want to revolutionise and improve the lives of these children need to sit for a while and start thinking from the perspective of the children. In other words, they need to ‘get into’ the lives of the children and see the world from their eyes. Indeed, they should pend a day with the kids, eat with them, ask them how they live, learn the things they do to survive and then analyse and compile the whole assessment onto a diary. Only then will the answer surface.

Most of us know that India is a country of ‘hot bloods’ (that is, very passionate people). These ‘hot bloods’ need to rise for these children and start interacting with them. Now, people will obviously think that, in this busy world, how can we spend 12-13 hours of our lives for them? I’m not saying everyone should do that but the people who want to volunteer should prefer this method.

But for the people who want to rise above this contention, they need to do so in simple ways. After all, many-a-time, adopting simple ways lead to perfect outcomes. For instance, you can always have a word with the children whenever they ask for money. Personally speaking, I ask the children about their lifestyles, what they eat by collecting these pennies, whether they go to school or not, etc. These small things can also give us enough knowledge about their lives – and then we need to do the requisite. We have to raise our voices, share our views, post stories on social platforms – and most of the job is done from our side.

The issue isn’t only limited to ‘our’ work – the government also has a major role in this and they have a duty to allow these people to enter the mainstream. Many of us hope that these children will be truly be a part of our society – but we are also aware of this fact that the government is not putting in their efforts to make it happen. Perhaps, it is because they don’t feel that this is an important subject and their priorities are different. However, it’s high time that we highlight this problem and pressurise the government to put in some efforts to address it.

According to the UNICEF, there were 11 million street children in India in 1994. On the other hand, there’s also the other half of India’s youth who can really help these children. The government should therefore organise some programs or workshops for creating and spreads awareness amongst the youth.

Again, the problem that arises is ‘how’ – how will the government attract the youth for these programs? For this, the government needs to provide perks for the participants, mainly because most of India’s college-going youth are attracted towards internships and the like. However, the basis for such initiatives should be along the lines of ‘voluntary participation’ rather than ‘technical knowledge’.

More importantly, we need to view the roles of these children in our lives as major ones – and not as cameos. So, the next time, whenever a street child asks you for a penny, just give them a helping hand!

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