“Bhaiya! I want to be a good tailor when I grow up. I have started to support my parents in stitching work,” said Suresh, a 14 year old teenage boy, who encountered our team members on multiple occasions.
Suresh’s story, is the story of many young children growing up in the ‘mobile age’. For Suresh though, it went one step further. He had gotten so hooked to playing games on his mobile that he had stopped going to school. This led to constant fights with his parents, who would beat him up in frustration, which pushed him to run away from his home in Meerut. That’s how Suresh reached Ghaziabad railway station and came face to face with our team.
Back in 2018, Suresh first met with our team at the station, one stop away from his home. He refused to share details of his whereabouts because he didn’t want to go back. He spent 3-4 months at a shelter home, and it was only when we persisted he shared details about his home, and the team discovered that his parents had lodged a missing complaint at their neighbourhood police station. His parents were contacted and brought over to the shelter home, to meet with Suresh and take him back home.
Follow-ups to check on his well-being indicated his mother’s frustration related to Suresh perpetually being on his phone and playing games, and paying no heed to school. This resulted in Suresh running away twice again. Each time he was found by our team roaming the railway station. The third time, he was found comfortably roaming the station and approaching the team for food and water.
Again, at the shelter home, he argued for his mobile phone. Suresh didn’t want to go back to school, and didn’t want to return home either, until his mother reassured him that she would not beat him up.
It was after repeated counselling with Suresh and his parents that his mother agreed to be patient with her son and Suresh tried to control his urge to play games on his phone. Suresh also began learning a vocational skill of sewing cloth bags to engage himself constructively.
Suresh 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.