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Wednesday, Oct 23, 2019

To better help street children, an initiative attempts to give their opinions a platform

Nitish was among the 10 children, aged between 10-18 years, who gathered at the India Islamic Cultural Centre in Delhi on Friday to speak about their struggles of living and working on the streets.

delhi Updated: Apr 13, 2019 04:33 IST
Kainat Sarfaraz
Kainat Sarfaraz
New Delhi
To better help street children, an initiative attempts to give their opinions a platform
To better help street children, an initiative attempts to give their opinions a platform(Hindustan Times)
         

“I used to clean plates at a chowmein stall to support my family,” 13-year-old Nitish says, taking pauses to steady himself and hold back the tears. “But now I go to school and I stood first in my class for two consecutive years.”

“I want to be a teacher and help other street children in the same way I was helped,” the class 6 student adds, before the audience breaks into an applause.

Nitish was among the 10 children, aged between 10-18 years, who gathered at the India Islamic Cultural Centre in Delhi on Friday to speak about their struggles of living and working on the streets.

Organised on International Day for Street Children by NGO Chetna and South Asian Literature Prize and Events Trust, the event Street Talk was held to give these children a platform to talk for themselves and demand policies that could uplift them.

“The objective of this initiative is to continue our efforts towards facilitating these street-connected children to have a voice and a platform, in a way that they become enabled enough to come forward and speak for themselves and their community,” Sanjay Gupta, Director of Chetna, said.

When asked on what the governments could do for street children, Nitish is the first to respond. “Children should be sent to school anyhow. No matter what the circumstances, they should be helped in getting an education so they can help others and have a better life.”

Others in the room agree. “Children should not be working on the streets,” says Kishan, 15, who works as a reporter with Balaknama — a newspaper written and edited by street and working children. “I had to quit studies after my father died, and became a vegetable vendor. Someone told me I could study and work. That is how I started pursuing education again.”

Children who had to resort to waste-picking, domestic work, begging and child labour for sustenance took the stage confidently speaking about their struggles and taking questions from the audience. Throwing light on the challenges faced by girls living and earning on the streets, Farzana, 11, who studies in Class 3, says, “Often during selling toys on buses, people try to touch us inappropriately. We can’t do anything but just move to the other side.” She goes on to add that often their earnings are stolen by other children.

First Published: Apr 13, 2019 04:33 IST

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