Street Children of Assam : A Day into the Home of the Homeless

Posted in Assam, Featured, Northeast

 

  • NET Web Desk

The homeless, people without shelter, are often denied their dignity as ‘Human Beings’. The name is Khan… Salman Khan… and he earns a mere fifty rupees each day. This is not a satirical dig about the Bollywood superstar Salman Khan, but an eleven year old street beggar at the Silchar Railway Station. His friends call him the superstar of streets because of his jolly and positive nature.

Salman started his journey on streets of Silchar when he was merely five years after losing both his parents.

Like Salman, there are thousands others who have made the rough city streets both their home and work place. Homelessness accompanied by poverty forces people to live without proper shelter, house, food, child care, health care, and education.

This section of people is also most vulnerable to violence by any muscle power. Media reports of a growing despair in economy and low employment make a number of important reasons why homelessness persists.

Speaking about the misery of these little kids, a local resident around the Railway Station area in Tarapur, Ananta Das said, “until a couple of years back, some NGOs used to visit and even set up health camps near the railway station for the homeless people. About 50-60 people from the area even visited the camps where doctors attended them and medicines were made available to them for free. But gradually the NGOs stopped coming and the street urchins had no one to attend to their woes.”

Surprisingly, not every story ended sad! “I studied and learnt stitching and after that I taught my brother and sister the same,” says a hopeful Manju Kumari, one of the beneficiaries of an educational and vocational studies programme for poor people organized by a local NGO.

She began begging on the streets at an age of seven and it has been five years since she is earning her living not by seeking alms on the streets, but by doing a respectable job as a tailor in local dress shop.

But the positive fact is that the state of these children is gradually improving due to the lack constant efforts of NGOs and charity clubs. NGOs like the Rotary Club and Lions Club along with countless local organisations have been in a constant endeavor in providing a ray of hope to the poor, hapless street children in Silchar. They are attempting to provide with educational opportunities and vocational studies so that they can look forward to a better life.

And those still unfortunate are waiting for this pandemic crisis to get over so that life returns back to normalcy and new projects of NGOs fall back on tracks.

According to a latest survey by the Central women and Child development wing, an average 175 of them in the country dying every day, five per cent of them working as child labourers and their rights trampled without any qualm, the children are in a shocking condition in Assam where grinding poverty has also thrown street children into peddling illegal drugs.

“Even if they become aware of their rights, they have seldom anything to do as they have already been sucked into the grind-mill,” an Assam representative of UNICEF said.
According to UNICEF statistics, over 40 per cent children below three years are underweight while 76.7 Per cent of the children are anaemic. It revealed that 54 Per cent children between five years and 14 years were child labourers. The state Juvenile Justice board has records of several cases of drug peddling by street children 75 per cent of whom are engaged in petty crimes.

It is reported that Social Welfare department along with the local NGOs is working on the implementation of the order. Civil society needs to monitor that the homeless are at least safe at night and a long term policy must be adopted to get rid of the problem.

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