“My name is Chotu and I live at a nearby jhuggi with my mother and two brothers. I came here with my friends so that I could visit the railway station and look at trains, but my friends left me here alone! I’m not able to go home because I’ve forgotten my way back,” he said to our team member who found one afternoon, looking scared and worried, and loitering on platform no.3 at Delhi Sarai Rohilla Railway Station one afternoon.
Coming from Daya Basti slum in Delhi, Chotu was reunified with his family with the help of the Railway Protection Force (RPF) and strthe Child Assistance Booth (CAB) at the station. Chotu’s parents were also taken through a counselling session, and multiple follow-ups were carried out to ensure his safety at home. Fortunately, Chotu’s parents acted in sync with advice from our team members, and Chotu started going back to school.
With the announcement of lockdown came new complications in Chotu and his family’s life. “Bhaiya! We are now in trouble. My mother has lost her job and is unable to purchase daily groceries. Please help us!” was Chotu’s sincere plea to save his family from hunger and starvation.
Help in the form of dry groceries were provided to Chotu and his family on a regular basis, that welled them up with immense gratitude. Chotu’s mother found a job that gave her a basic income to start supporting her family and ensuring her children were going back to school. Chotu was elated that despite lockdown he could still attend his online classes, and continue to learn.
Chotu is one of the million childhood faces in India. Railway Children India’s initiative – #BehindEveryFace, is an attempt to uncover and discover the story behind every child’s face, that is waiting to be told. By shaping the loftier narrative of childhoods in India and giving a space to everyone to share their stories of younger days, we aim to build a collection of children’s stories, that are a testament to their lives.