“I have never been to school, because I don’t have the necessary documents to get in. My mother passed away 6 months ago and my father has to look after my three sisters, two brother and myself,” said 10 year old Arshad, who had strayed away from home with his cousin Sahil.

Two cousins, Arshad, 10 and Sahil, 6 were found alone outside the ticket counter at the Ghaziabad railway station. They had accidentally strayed away from home and come this far that they were unable to find their way back home.

Being spotted by our team, they both looks confused and frightened. We first took them to the Child Help Booth at the railway station and offered them food and water. Initially, they were hesitant and frightened to speak, but after comforting them, they opened up about their predicament.

Sahil’s father is a vendor who runs a motor-powered cart and that morning when he set left home, the duo started running after his cart. Playfully they kept following the speeding cart, not realising where they had finally reached. But both of them were eager to go back home. Fortunately, when they started sharing their whereabouts, it was discovered that they were from Ghaziabad itself. We immediately reached out to the family and within a few hours, Arshad’s father arrived at the Child Help Booth.

While interacting with our team his father shared about his distress ever since he lost his wife 6 months ago. As a daily wage worker, with 2 boys and 3 girls, he was unable to manage, despite living in a joint family with brothers.

Arshad and Sahil were handed over to their respective families, after following the due process with the Government Railway Police. However, since the children were vulnerable, our team visited their home and took on a regular follow up. It was brought to the teams notice that Arshad was the oldest of 5 children, and the responsibility of raising them and earning a living was taking a toll on his father, as the youngest child was only 2 years old.

On further conversation, Arshad’s father mentioned that Arshad had never been to school because none of his children had the necessary documents to enrol in school. But, we assured him that we would work towards ensuring that Arshad and all his children get admission at school immediately.

Arshad 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.