A 14-year-old male child named Mahesh (name changed) was found at the Ghaziabad Railway Station at 2:00pm on 15th November 2019. He was scared, crying and running around also clearly showed signs that of a child with disability. Our team approached him and initiated a conversation, his speech wasn’t comprehensible enough and seemed to be speaking Punjabi.

A keen observation by the counsellor

He was then taken to the Child Assistance Booth, during the counselling session he told us that his parents got into a fight and his mother left home and so did he but then lost his way back home. He found a friend who assured him that he would meet his mother but left him midway. He wasn’t even able to recall the phone number of his parents or his home address.

According to the counsellor’s observation Mahesh seemed to have expressions of developmental and intellectual delay and showed impressions of mild level social adaptive functioning, also his motor skills weren’t intact. He showed signs of speech difficulty and had majorly interacted signals. He even had difficulty in remembering things and so kept changing his statements. He was constantly crying and had sudden anger outbursts. Our team was able to calm him down after providing him with food and water at the Child Assistance Booth.

Mahesh was (quoted) saying, “mei ne nhe karni kise se bhi baat mjhe meri bhabhi ke pass jana hai.”“I don’t want to talk to anyone, I want to go meet my sister.” The child also stated that “Jab mein train mai chadha toh mujhe dar nahi lag raha tha, per phir jab bhaut saare log aa gaye tab meinu dar laga.” “I wasn’t scared when I got into the train, but then there were a lot of people, that’s when I got scared.”

After the GD and medical procedure before the CWC-Ghaziabad, Mahesh was sent to the open shelter wherein he was introduced to the other children already staying there. The caregiver made him feel safe and comfortable during his stay in the open shelter. He was provided with all the basic amenities at the shelter along with constant care and attention. 

Elementary training at the shelter home

Mahesh was constructively engaged in non-formal activity-based learning and group activities conducted by the counsellors, aimed at enhancing his social skills and was provided regular counselling sessions to understand his needs. We also took assistance from the psychiatrist who told us that Mahesh has been diagnosed with mid-level social adaptive functioning. The NFE teacher gave ample amount of attention towards Mahesh which helped him overcome some of the problems he was facing.

Mahesh spent approximately 10 months in Uday Open Shelter and after a while he was able to express his emotions, read, write and also developed interest in drawing. He was able to interact with other children and showed a huge development in social skills. Earlier he used to throw tantrums and would easily get angry but the constant support and care along with counselling provided at the shelter had a positive impact on his behaviour. His communication skills were improving and he was able to communicate fully with delayed speech but with time was getting better at it too.

Going back home

In June 2020 Mahesh was playing with the shelter’s watchman when he spotted that a phone number was inked on Mahesh’s left hand but wasn’t clear enough. The watchman informed the staff about this and our team was able to trace the missing digits and the number. We were finally able to contact the child’s family but due to lockdown it was not possible for us to send him back home or for his parents to come pick him up. In August 2020, Mahesh’s mother along with his elder brother came to the shelter and they were extremely happy to see that their child was in safe hands. They said, “Bhaiyya humne toh iske milne ki umeed chod di thi, aapki vajha se humara baccha hume mil gaya, aapka bahut dhanyawad”“We had given up the hope of finding him, it was only possible because of you, thank you so much.” to our child welfare officer. The Child Welfare Officer arranged an interactive session with Mahesh’s parents and conducted an assessment to understand the care and protection provided by the family.

The family counselling session

During the family counselling session, the counsellor mentioned that Mahesh is a very sensitive child and has developmental issues which has been catered to. The counsellor suggested that the family should admit him to a vocational training centre according to his interests for a better future. His parents said, “Haan madamji aap jo kah rahe ho usper hum jarur dhyan denge.” “Yes Madam, we’ll pay attention to what you’re saying.” The counsellor also suggested to admit Mahesh into the school for specially-abled children and shape his future in a better way. He asked the parents to take him to a psychiatrist in the government hospital and informed them about the Institute of Human Behaviour & Allied Sciences for a better assistance. The Child Welfare Officer ensured that Mahesh gets proper counselling sessions in future and a better life ahead.

While leaving Mahesh promised us that he will never run away from home and was very happy to go back. He said, “main aapko yaad karunga madam ji.”“I’ll miss you Ma’am.”

The Child Welfare Officer conducted a first follow up call and learned that Mahesh has reached his home safely, was happy and started colouring in the activity book given to him by the staff. Mahesh said, “Sir ji mjhe ghar aake aacha lag raha hai”. “Sir, I’m happy to be back home.”