India’s street children, often familiar faces, spotted asking for alms at traffic signals, selling knick knacks at railway stations and market places, finding shelter at bus stops and roadside hutments, are almost nowhere to be seen. With the lockdown in India, surviving the street came with far reaching implications, adding to an already harsh reality, pushing children to hideouts and shelters, in search of a way to “stay home”.
Here’s what a street child’s life looks like in days of the lockdown, infringing upon almost every right that is theirs to claim.
When dark streets, underway bridges and railway platforms are home no more…And the search for a roof over one’s head is a ticking time bomb.
When going to school and getting an education, becomes an even more distant reality…And everyday life experiences is the only way to learn.
When social distancing is a privilege of the rich, with public toilets being shared by hundreds, an unwritten law of street-life… And the fear of being exposed to an unknown virus looms large.
When self-isolation is only hearsay… And access to fresh air or space to crawl are restricted in overcrowded shelters and confined bastis.
When nutrition is a luxury one cannot afford… And access to basic essentials are dependent on help from the outside.
When discrimination and social stigmatization are multiplied…And interactions with quality healthcare equals to self-quarantine.
When children remain at the bottom of the pyramid, the damage is more than can be seen… And we know that we are amidst not just a health emergency, but a child rights emergency too.