Just a kilometer from our office is an ‘extended family’ of about 50 children and their parents, living on open ground and sleeping in abandoned sewage pipes or under trees. The children are professional beggars, and opportunist thieves, with little practical help from their parents. They will soon be parents too, skipping childhood and any education, if they don’t succumb to an early death.
We have been talking to them for a few months now, hearing their stories, gaining their trust, and offering them the beginnings of a chance. We are saying that we can help a few of the children get to school and an educational hostel, and a way out of their desperate cycle. The fathers are reluctant to lose their children’s earnings, and for the children this would all be new, so negotiations are slow. We believe our time on this is worth it, though, as just one child starting on formal education could transform their whole culture. Other children will want to go and their parents will begin to see the huge benefits of confident and socialized young ones.
Kayya, one of PTP’s beneficiary said about his mother,’ my mother’s name is Pushpa, we are from a VADAR [nomadic tribes] family who are living under the tree and near the sewage pipe line for shelter. My mother has a total of 11 children. Out of them 3 died and 8 are alive. My mother wants us to have education so that we can have an opportunity to change our life. She had given admission to my brothers and me in the school but many times my father brought me from school by saying to teachers that he didn’t learn so his children would not learn’.
Recently my father has bitten my mother lot and hit her above her eye. Fortunately her eye is safe but there is a big, deep wound which is dangerous (infected) now. She didn’t go to the doctor because she hadn’t money to pay. I am thankful to PTP and their volunteer donor Priyadaka who paid for her treatment so she could go to the doctor. She was 2 days late to reach the doctor. He said that she should have come before as there is need to have stitches but now she couldn’t. My father is alcoholic and because of that we (the children) or my mother have to pay money otherwise he doesn’t allow us to eat food. He hides the food, sometimes throws it but does not allow us to eat it. My mother has to get out some food for us while cooking. We sell stones by stitching which is used to make ‘masala’. Nowadays there are lots of grinding machines in the market so we do not have chance to earn much from it. To survive, we have to sell balloons, hair, sometimes stealing or begging.’
Their cycle is just going on from generation to generation. If these children get education, it will change their lives and the lives of their family members. There are many children like Kayya and Shobhi (son and daughter of Pushpa). They need a hand of help for their bright future.