During my childhood, some activities were very close to my heart. I had complete freedom to enjoy those activities. I was fortunate to take birth in a family where I got unforgettable love and affection from my family members. Today, I am a middle-aged man, and am happy in my little world where I have my life partner and a lovely daughter.
But when I look outside my house, I see a lot of children on the streets and railway stations begging for food and money. And I wonder why these children are there alone on the streets fighting for survival?
After working for 16 years in environmental protection, I was fortunate to get employment in the child rights organization – Railway Children India.
It opened my mind about the issue which I was always inquisitive about.
Every 5 minutes a child arrives alone at a railway station in India. These children are running away from poverty, abuse, hunger, and various other threats. They often board trains which are quite easy to get on to in our country and travel long distances.
Once these children arrive alone at an unfamiliar station, they are prime targets for abusers such as pimps, traffickers, drug pushers, and peddlers. The time they are most vulnerable to exploitation, is the time they need protection most.
Railway Children India believes in early intervention and reaches out to these children to provide protection and care before an abuser can get to them.
Railway Children India is implementing a 24*7 outreach programme and running Child Help Desks at 10 railway stations in collaboration with local partner NGOs with the permission of the railway authorities. These stations are Delhi Sarai Rohila, Ghaziabad, Darbhanga, Bhubaneswar, Trichy, Villupuram, Salem, Katpadi, Raipur, and Dadar (Mumbai).
Once the child is identified as a runaway or abandoned, he/she is brought to the Child Help Desk where the details of the child are documented, and a general diary is opened with the help of the Railway Station Protection Force. Once the general diary is filled, the child is produced in the front of the Child Welfare Committee so that the restoration process to get him/her back to the family can begin.
Railway Children India also runs Open Shelters at Ghaziabad, Trichy, and Salem in collaboration with local partners.
These Open Shelters provides holistic care services like a nutritious diet of 4 meals a day, non-formal education along with recreational activities including outdoor and indoor games, sanitation and hygiene, weekly health check-up, and counselling.
Children are put in our Open Shelters while the process of tracing their families is on. Once the family is traced, the child resumes his/her journey back to his/her family.
The family members are also sensitized about child protection issues.
Railway children India has been able to protect so many children because we have a reliable team of child protection champions in the form of Railway Protection Force, railway vendors, coolies, and other railway staffs. These associates are trained on a regular basis to spot children in trouble and are sensitised for non-threatening first contact.
As I write this blog, numerous children are at risk of exploitation at various railway stations. To save their childhood, we need not just your wishes, but also your support. Do reach out and get in touch to help us save these children.
To know more about us please visit our website:- https://railwaychildren.org.in/
The blogger works with the Railway Children India’s fund-raising team.