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From street-side drug addicts to trained artists

Safe Society, an NGO, is engaged in rehabilitating runaway children and those into rag-picking and unauthorised vending at Gorakhpur railway station, home to hundreds of such vulnerable children and youths.

more lifestyle Updated: May 30, 2019 17:29 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
street-side druggies,trained artistes,trained wall-painter
The NGO is involved in rehabilitating runaway children. (www.safesociety.in)

There is a new focus in the eyes of Raju (17), the same eyes, which not too long ago, carried a glazed, far-away look in them perpetually. Today, he is a trained wall-painter, ready to be recruited by a Lucknow-based construction and housing firm on a regular salary.

Until three months ago, Raju would collect empty water bottles dumped on the railway tracks by passengers, refill them with tap water and sell them at low prices at the railway station. The money thus earned would go only into quenching addictions that many station-dwelling children are usually victims of. Easily available intoxicants like pain-relieving ointment, Iodex and whitener (used for correction) were his poison.

After several rounds of counselling and therapy by Safe Society, he quit. Safe Society, an NGO, is engaged in rehabilitating runaway children and those into rag-picking and unauthorised vending at Gorakhpur railway station, home to hundreds of such vulnerable children and youths.

On Wednesday, the NGO organised a function to display the transformation of Raju and his friends as also their latent creativity. Among the officials on hand were the SP crime and the district probationary officer (DPO). Lauding the change in the children, the officials later arranged treats for them at the Civil Lines office of the Child Welfare Committee.

Like Raju, his friends, Rupesh, Gagan and Ankur have also undergone a three-month wall-painting training besides learning to make beautiful murals, an art much in demand in recent times.

Safe Society is in talks with a Lucknow-based construction firm to recruit them as the NGO has entered into an agreement with Skill India. The objective is to provide jobs to these children and youth in the organised sector.

According to Brijesh, a member of the NGO, more station-dwelling children are showing interest in the training by seeing the transformation in Raju and his friends.

“We have channelised their energy in a positive direction by motivating them to learn job-oriented skills. Many of the station-dwelling children and youth have criminal tendencies like pick-pocketing, indulging in drugs. They will become criminals if proper attention is not paid to them through proper counselling. Training them for dignified jobs will not only prevent them from stepping into the world of crime but will also give them proper job avenues.

“By training them for jobs like wall-painting, we aim to make them role models for other vulnerable children,” Brijesh said. He highlighted how challenging it had been for his organisation to bring these children into the mainstream, by making them shun drug addiction and change their mindset to become more accepting of respectable, full-time jobs.

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First Published: May 30, 2019 17:27 IST