Runaway children reunite with families | india | Hindustan Times
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Runaway children reunite with families

A DOZEN pair of eyes kept darting across the room, mainly to the two entrances: the hands clasped and unclasped; and an air of expectancy pervaded.

india Updated: Dec 31, 2005 12:39 IST

A DOZEN pair of eyes kept darting across the room, mainly to the two entrances: the hands clasped and unclasped; and an air of expectancy pervaded. Then, the children filed in from the door on far end, each being handed a rose and marked on forehead with tilak.

No sooner did they enter, they rushed towards those impatiently awaiting their hands. The little ones handed over the roses to the elders and then fell in their laps, tears streaming from all eyes. The eyes of all other onlookers present in that room too became moist.

This poignant scene marked the handing over ceremony organised by the National Institute of Women, Child and Youth Development under their Bachpan project.

More than a dozen platform children, who have been through a month-long de-addiction and home placement camp, were handed over to their parents or guardians. A total 28 children attended the camp organised in collaboration with Saathi, Raichur (Karnataka) and Saathiya, Itarsi. Volunteers of these social organisations would take the rest of the children, whose parents/guardians could not make it to the formal ceremony, to their homes.

The handing-over ceremony was performed in presence of Commissioner, Women and Child Development, S R Mohanty. These children, mostly recovered from platforms in Bhopal and Ujjain where Bachpan runs night shelters with the help of Childline and Special Juvenile Unit of the Police, were put through on month long camp to help them rid of the various addictions and prepare them mentally to return home.

Meanwhile, their parents were contacted on the basis of addresses furnished by the children. A parents’ counselling session was held on last day of camp on Thursday.

Stories of most of the runaway children are similar, be it Yogesh of Akola, Raju of Benaras or Ajay of Seoni. They ran away from home or were forced to run away because of difficult circumstances. But they faced tougher times on various platforms and trains in the country, falling to exploitation by elder boys, police and any others and getting sucked into addiction of tobacco and alcohol.

After a month of camping where they were put through meditation, group discussion, group activities and other moral sessions, the children are now ready to go home and promise never to run away again.

“It was a difficult task, bringing them about, but finally they all agreed to move away from platform