Six-year-old Suresh wakes up in the morning not with the thought of going to school, playing with toys or wearing new clothes but to somehow earn more than Rs 50 as alms during the day.
He begs throughout the day with his friends and earns about Rs 30-50 in a day and sometimes lesser than this. And, it's his earning that decides whether he and his family will have vegetable that night or just chatni.
If he earns Rs 50 or more, he goes with vegetables at home but if he earns less that that, he buys ingredients of chatni like dhaniya, mirchi and pyaj (corriender, chilli and onion).
When Suresh was rescued by the police from Koh-e-Fiza area, under the anti-beggary campaign, was asked why he begs, Suresh replied that he was destined to beg as that would help his family.
Suresh says he doesn’t dream of having a good career and a comfortable life. All he aims is to contribute as much as he can to his family’s income.
Suresh is not the only child who earns his livelihood by begging, there are several others who do the same, said volunteers of Childline, an NGO, which has been working along with the police for the anti-beggary campaign.
The campaign has found out extremely poor families, like that of Suresh’s, have more children as that would add to the family’s income. Dhiraj, 5, and Mohan, 6, who were also rescued from Royal market while begging, share similar sentiments as Suresh’s. Dhiraj said, “If I go to school, who would earn money? My mother and father are labourers and they can’t afford my expenses. I am happy that I am able to earn money for my family. I have been doing it for the past two years.”
Sonu, 15, another beggar, told the police that his family had spent their entire life begging.
A resident of Akola, Maharashtra, Sonu was recovered from Bhopal railway station. He said, “My whole family is involved in begging. I was begging and would continue doing the same as I have no other option to live my life.”
Childline director Archana Sahay said, " We are counseling them and we are also warning their family members not to involve these children in begging or any other activities, which are against the law.
(names of the children have been changed)