Engrossed in his books, 13-year-old Harendra Singh Chauhan sits on a pavement under the streetlight outside Noida City Centre Metro station, trying to finish his homework while weighing scales lie on his side, in anticipation of customers.
The boy wants to pursue his education and support his family. “My father lost his job in June and bought a weighing machine to earn a living. My schoolteacher had asked me to buy colours, A3 sheets and a file cover. I did not have the money to buy it so I decided to sit outside the metro station with weighing scales to fund my project work,” says Harendra. He decided to take his notebooks with him as he wanted to utilise the time he spent waiting for customers.
“I go to school at 7am and then attend Math and English tuitions. Thereafter, I go for computer class. At about 7pm, I go to the metro station and sit there till 9pm. On good days, I earn Rs 60 to Rs 70, but there are also days when I hardly get anything,” says the class 9 student of Shri Krishna Inter College, Sector 122.
He lives in a 8x7sqft one-room house in Hoshiarpur village in Sector 51 with his parents and two brothers. His polio-stricken father has a hard time providing for the family. “I encourage my sons to study. We tried to admit Harendra to a private school, but had to shift him to a government school as we could not afford it. It is difficult to find a job for me as I cannot stand for long hours,” said Ram Gopal Singh, his father.
However, within two months of his time at the footpath, Harendra caught the attention of several passersby who have pitched in to help. On Thursday, after one of the passersby posted about him on social media, he was contacted by a leader of the Samajwadi Party. “Two men came and said that I should not sit at the metro station and study because it casts a bad impression on the government. They offered to sponsor my school fee and buy me a cycle,” he said.
Dr Ashray Gupta, the party leader who visited Harendra, said, “I have assured him of sponsoring his school fee and helping him with the house rent. I will take up the matter with UP Child Rights Protection Commission.”