By- D.K. Malviya,Bhopal :Shabby and unkempt children clad in rags with drug-dazed, often begging alms or sweeping rail coaches and railway platform are a common sight in any city. Most of them have fled from their homes and brave the cruelties of nature on the footpaths under the open sky.
Most of them either become hardcore criminals and land in jails or get hooked on some addiction dying young. The passersby either pay just no attention to them or despite having some sympathy for them hardly do anything more than paying lip service. Even some look down upon them contemptuously. It is rarely that someone comes forward to do something concrete to help them. hapless
A few months back the Bhopal railway station had a large number of such unfortunate children, but now their number has considerably reduced thanks to the well-meaning initiative of a voluntary institution ?Bachpan? and the sensitivity of the Chief Minister Shri Shivraj Singh Chouhan.
Seeing the pathetic condition of these children on the Bhopal railway station a visibly moved Chief Minister Shri Chouhan asked the district collector to make the arrangements for providing education and other necessities to them. The ?Bachpan? had already made arrangements to provide night shelter to these children. In day time they used to sell mineral water bottles, Gutkha and other items to the travellers, sweeping the platform and rail coaches, begging alms and, of course, taking drugs. In deference to the desire of Shri Chouhan the arrangements for providing education, food, clothes etc were made by the Rajya Shiksha Kendra at the centre christened ?Disha?. Two voluntary teachers were made available to the centre under Bridge Course scheme. The children study at this centre and also attend regular classes at the nearby Habibia middle school.
At present, twenty nine children reside at ?Disha?. Now they have kicked off drugs and their behaviour and conduct has improved a lot. Now they are learning to lead a civilized and disciplined life. One of the teachers, Sushri Shobha Sharma told that now almost all the children have mastered the three R?s. They can count upto 100 and have memorized tables upto ten. They were brought to this centre on August 13, 2007. The Chief Minister Shri Chouhan formally inaugurated it on August 27,2007. She said that now the children have improved beyond expectation.
Sushri Sharma said that now these hapless children are fast learning to live like other normal children. In case of any health problem they are taken to nearby Shakir Ali Hospital. Fourteen-year-old Kelu was afflicted by T.B. and is undergoing treatment at a charitable hospital. He is responding well to the treatment. All these children play and dance together and celebrate all the festivals with unity. On the Republic Day last they even performed a play in a local school.
About 14 year old Balbeer Purabia, who once wandered about aimlessly on the station and totally hooked on drugs told that he had fled from his home at Indergarh in Datia district as his father used to beat this motherless child mercilessly. He picked up bad habits in the company of bad boys around in the vicinity of the railway station. He even started drinking liquor and beer besides chewing tobacco Gutkha.
Balbeer said that now he is totally off drugs and does not want to even remember the ?station life?. Exuding confidence he said with a tinge of pride in his voice that he can read, add, multiply and can do sums. He has learnt square root and decimal system. Before coming to this centre he had not even seen the inside of a school building. He wants to become a motor mechanic or join police or army. He wants other ?station children? to emulate him.
About 15 years old Yogesh Chouhan?s story is no different from other children of the centre. He had fled his home at Nagpur following a quarrel with his maternal uncle with who he was living after losing his parents. At Bhopal railway station he used to vend water bottles and other items and had got addicted of tobacco and Gutkha. Didi (Sushri Jamna Fatkale, a volunteer of Bachpan) brought him to the centre, which has changed the course of his life. He wants to return home after becoming a worthy citizen.
About 12 year old Rahul Yadav had come to Bhopal after he fell out with a friend and hurting him. He started sweeping the rail coaches and taking whitener for intoxication. Now he is well up in three R?s. He is happy with the new life and shower praises on the teachers and volunteers who are sparing nothing to shape his future.
Thirteen-year-old Gopi had fled his Hyderabad home a few months back. He said his mother and father used to beat him unnecessarily. He also used to beg alms at the Bhopal station. When he was brought to this centre he knew no Hindi, but now he has picked up well. He has got so fascinated with Hindi that now he is even forgetting his mother tongue Telugu. He rattled out the twelve vocalic sounds of the Devnagari syllabry nonstop.
These children take deep interest in other activities as well. They prepared handwritten greeting cards of the New Year eve and exchanged them among themselves and presented them to their teachers.
The headmaster of Habibia School Shri Rajiv Dixit told that initially it was very difficult to even talk to these children, let alone handling them. But now with the efforts of the teachers Sushri Shobha Sharma and Shri Durgesh Yadav, their behaviour and conduct has improved a lot. The District Coordinator of Rajya Shiksha Kendra Shri Surendra Singh Rathore said that after initial difficulties the teachers succeeded in their efforts to give the right direction to these wayward children.
The Rajya Shiksha Kendra provides them education facility, books, stationery, food and other learning material. There is a plan to impart vocational training to them and two rooms are being constructed for this purpose.
Spirited individuals and institutions are also lending a helping hand to these children. Today itself, Shaheed Hemu Kalani Educational Society, Bairagarh provided one hundred sweaters for them.
Thus, with the efforts of a voluntary institution and the sensitivity of the Chief Minister now these children are learning to lead a meaningful life.