Labourers’ kids get global award | india | Hindustan Times
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Labourers’ kids get global award

It took more than a magic carpet for these four to travel from the dusty construction sites at Wadala and Versova to Hong Kong’s glittering harbour, reports Bhavika Jain.

india Updated: May 19, 2008 00:44 IST
Bhavika Jain

It took more than a magic carpet for these four to travel from the dusty construction sites at Wadala and Versova to Hong Kong’s glittering harbour.

A spunky puppet show on saving mangroves won Sapna Gaire (11), Pirajee Telangi (12), Swati Nagtilak (13) and Akshay Kadam (11) — children of construction workers — that ticket.

The children, who have never been to school, represented India in Hong Kong and competed with children from 23 other countries to win the second place for a wetland conservancy project. They are students of non-governmental Mobile Crèches, which provides education and daycare facilities to construction workers’ children. The monthly income of their parents amounts to Rs 4,000 to Rs 5,000.

"We saw buildings with 100 floors. We got frightened when we sat in the plane. Plane mein sherbet piya aur maska pau khaya (We had soft drinks and bread and butter in the plane)," said Nagtilak.

"Humne wahan se kuchh kharida nahi kyunki humare paas paise hi nahi the (We didn’t shop for anything, as we didn’t have the money)," said Akshay.

"We have centres near construction sites so children can come to us," said Neeta Khajuria, general manager of Mobile Crèches, Mumbai. They currently have 20 centres, open from 8.45 am to 4.30 pm daily.

The children prepared for two-three months before their trip. With their teacher, they researched, observed flamingoes migrating to Mumbai. "We wanted to do something different so we thought we would do a puppet show," said Naina Beloshe, teacher and in-charge of Bhakti Park Centre, who accompanied them to Hong Kong.

"We shot the puppet show and sent them a CD in January. We received a call from them to say that we were selected for the second place," she said.

Next on the children’s plan is to go to school, "study really hard and to become engineers."