Children’s Stories

All the children’s names have been changed as per Juvenile Justice Act.

Sangeeta’s Story

Sangeeta (aged 8) was found at Gorakhpur Railway station. She ran away from her home in Darbhanga, Bihar. Her mother died when she was only 3 years. According to Sangeeta,

“My father always forced me to beg at railway stations.
  At the end of the day he took away all the money.
  If for some reason the earning was not enough,
  I was beaten up badly.”

She refuses to return home so CoME volunteers are counselling her. At present she lives at “Gayadham” one of the centres set up by COME for underprivileged children. She attends regular classes and is doing well in studies.

Dhanraj’s Story

Dhanraj, a 15 year old boy, was lost from Maharashtra district when he was about 6 years old. Since then, he was kept in many shelter homes, and none of them were able to trace his address. He only knew the name of his village. He did not even know the name of his district or police station.

Dhanraj was sent to our centre about a year ago. We contacted Maharashtra Bhavan in Delhi hoping that they might trace the village but they were unable to locate it. Dhanraj had lost hope long ago. It was Siddhant, one of our outreach staff, who did not give up.

In his third search attempt, he took Dhanraj to visit a village named Jalgaon. Dhanraj did not recognize the village but on mentioning his father’s name, an old man told them that

“There was a person by that name but
  his wife passed away about eight years ago.
  Since then he left this place and probably lives
  in another village, about 50 kilometres from here”.

By the time Siddhant and Dhanraj reached the village it was dark. They started their search but were unsuccessful. They stayed in the village overnight and continued their search the next morning. By God’s grace, finally the boy’s father was traced. He recognized his lost child. It was a very emotional reunion.

Dhanraj was sad to learn about his mother’s death but was happy to find his lost family including a brother and a sister.

Mala’s Story

The beautiful family home in Pharsar that Ravi’s father built and that Ravi lovingly renovated and extended to create our first centre, is located in a quiet country area.  The atmosphere in the centre is joyous with children free to play inside, outside, or even up in the high turrets of the centre.

The education schedule here is relatively light as many of the children are not yet ready for mainstream schooling and have their bridge-schooling classes in the centre.

When Mala came to us she was
very quiet, shy and withdrawn.

She would not talk about her family or where she came from. She was found at a railway station and that was all we knew about her. Months went by and we saw that Mala made very few friends and still she would not give us any clue as to her background. Finally, one evening she sat and told Ravi where her family was located. She also told of how her father liked to drink a lot and did not work, so her parents forced her to beg. If Mala came home empty-handed, her father would beat her.

Soon after telling her story, Mala became very ill. CoME staff members drove her from hospital to hospital in the middle of the night, to find one that would take her in. Many hospitals do not want to take in “street children” even though Mala was living in our centre. Finally one hospital accepted her.

One of the CoME staff donated blood to help this seriously ill little girl. The hospital staff wanted her to have every test possible, even ones that were not needed. Mala was seen as a way to make some extra money for the hospital.

After a few days, Mala was well enough to leave the hospital. She has since been seen by another doctor and is now fully recovered – a happy, smiling child living with her new family in Apna Ghar. Her parents will be traced and told where she is. One day, in a few years time, Mala may return to her parents but that is up to her.

Dheeraj’s Story

Dheeraj is 14 years old and has now reached year 9 at school. He is an average student but is usually cheerful and enthusiastic. After returning from his “Holi Holidays” at home in March, he seemed to lose his joyfulness.

After counselling, he opened up and spoke
about the illness of his sister Rupa,
who had been diagnosed with a hole in her heart.

Their mother is a landless widow working hard to feed her children. There was no way she could earn the money for her daughter’s operation. Rupa was left to die and her health was deteriorating. This was upsetting Dheeraj.

When Ravi Rai went to see Rupa in her village, she looked like a skeleton. Ravi assured Dheeraj that he would try his best to save her. Rupa was brought to our Seva Saytu centre near Lucknow, and was treated in a good hospital in Lucknow. The smiles returned to Dheeraj’s face.

He was beaming in gratitude.

A Positive Result for a Newborn Baby

There had been a story in the newspaper about a child that had died while in police custody due to the brutality and ignorance of police officers. This inspired Ravi Rai to act, developing a training session to teach police officers how to treat children according to their rights. The Juvenile Justice Act states that a child cannot be handcuffed or beaten up.

The Inspector General of Police was very impressed and supportive. An order was given by him to display child right’s hoardings in all the police stations of Gorakhpur, Maharajganj, Kushinagar and Deoria districts in collaboration with CoME.

The hoardings are placed in 85 police stations of all the four districts of Uttar Pradesh where people have little knowledge about child rights. Meetings and briefings of police officers and constables were held at each police station.

It is encouraging to note that since the training sessions were given, and the hoardings put up, local police officers are now actively wanting to help children. Recently, Ravi received a phone call at 5am from a police officer.

A baby had been found abandoned,
still with its umbilical cord attached.

Abandoned babies are often ignored, left where they are and have no chance of survival. This baby survived thanks to the actions of the police officer who had attended the training and had used one of the telephone numbers on the hoarding in the police station.

Another Mala’s Story

Mala (aged 9) lost her father in a road accident when she was only 7. A year later, her mother died of complications of illness due to lack of medicine. Since then she slept outside a temple in Gorakhpur City. She was handed over to our centre there by the police authorities. According to Mala:

“Life was tough on the streets.
  I couldn’t sleep at night due to cold in the winters.
  My meals depended on the mercy of
  people visiting the temple.
  Many times I slept without food.”

Mala is now a healthy kid living at Apna Ghar in the city. She goes to school and is doing well. She will benefit from continued counselling and protection in our centre.

Jitender’s Story

Our volunteers first spotted Jitender (aged 7) begging at Gorakhpur Station. He was a very weak, dumb & deaf boy who could hardly walk. After giving him some food and care, he opened up and surprised us all when he started talking. According to Jitender:

“I pretend to be deaf and dumb.
It helps me in my work (begging).
People feel pity for me and give money.”

Jitender claims to remember nothing about his parents or his home. He grew up begging at a very young age. He doesn’t feel that begging is wrong or strange. We have begun the long process of counselling Jitender – he still lives in Apna Ghar and can now read and write. He is attending regular classes.

Ramjit’s Story

Two years ago when Ramjit met me, he had no hope of continuing his studies. Ramjit, a 16 year-old Schedule Tribe boy, looked hopeless. It was difficult for his parents to support all  four children in the family. His father is a labour and earns very little, which is not enough to support all his four children and wife.

Ramjit is visually challenged by birth.
His right eye is totally gone, 

but he can see partially (25%) by his left eye.

We motivated Ramjit to continue his studies. We helped him with his fees and educational materials. He was weak in Mathematics and Science subjects so we arranged for a private tutor. The first year the result was average. He was expecting better results. I could see a willingness/determination to prove himself. We continued his private tuition. We motivated him to sit in the entrance exam to get admission in Polytechnique colleges. Ever year about two hundred and fifty thousand students compete to sit for twenty five thousand seats available. He sat for the exam and it was a matter of great pleasure for all of us that he has qualified for the Polytechnique College. His family, who don’t know the meaning of poly, are aware that Ramjit has achieved something very good. Ramjit is full of confidence since his selection to polytechnique was achieved.

Ajit’s Story

Ajit was forced into begging at 4 yo by his own mother. By 6 yo, Ajit was selling bottled tap water at spring water prices to pay for his addiction to White Out. His move to CoME was a 2-year tug-of-war between his mother (who wanted a bread-winner) and the healthy life that he wanted. Recently, Ajit decided to spend some time with his mother at the Railway Station.

After 3 days, they found him shaking and unconscious
from a White-Out binge paid for by his mother
as a “treat” to entice him back to begging.

Following a few days in hospital, Ajit returned to the safety and protection of his friends at our centre.

Ajit is now doing great at school, especially in Maths, and is slowly learning his Life’s hard lesson – that his mother is a toxic influence on him.

Khushboo & Sonu’s Story 

Khushboo’s father grew up on the streets, and dying of AIDS at 26, he handed over his 5 year-old daughter to CoME. She settled in well yet pined for her father, and for Sonu, her 2 year-old brother who had been snatched from his father and sold for begging. With his strong contacts, Ravi somehow tracked-down Sonu in Bihar state, and convinced his captors to hand over a stick-thin and malnourished Sonu.

Sadly, their father electrocuted himself
when his pain became unbearable.

After receiving medical attention and regular meals, Sonu is flourishing in the company of his sister Khushboo, and their larger group of brothers and sisters at our centre.

Arun’s Story 

An abusive alcoholic father poured kerosene over 5 year-old Arun and threatened to light it, to force his mother to hand-over money that she didn’t have.

Sadly, he carried out his threat,
burning one side of Arun’s face,
badly disfiguring his ear, cheek and neck -
to say nothing of the extreme pain and terror
that Arun would have endured.

Arun escaped and after some time on the streets of Delhi, authorities handed the 7 year-old over to CoME. He was an extreme loner, and when in any company, he would hide most of his face through embarrassment, shame and pitifully low self-esteem.

Through constant nurturing and the innocent love of the other children, Arun is slowly regaining confidence in life and his own self-worth. He no longer hides his scars.

 

Continue by reading the Positive Outcomes that we achieve with these children.