13-year old Mohit Kumar (name changed) is the son of an auto driver. His mother works a domestic help in the locality. Mohit has 3 brothers. His eldest brother, aged 22 years is also an auto driver, but has never been to school; the two others go to school. Mohit was also admitted in a school near their home, but he was not interested and did not go to school regularly. Instead, he used to collect left over water bottles from the Patna Railway Station and sell it. With the money he earned, he used to purchase solution (dendrite) and was quite addicted to it.
When our outreach staff contacted him at Patna Railway Station he was actually inhaling the solution. Initially, he denied it but later admitted that he got into this habit from his friends with whom he was collecting bottles. With the order of the Child Welfare Committee, he was referred to DISHA de-addiction centre.
In the first evaluation during his detoxification process, Mohit was not showing interest in anything taught there. He took his time and slowly developed interest in learning dance, reading & writing alphabets and drawing. Within 3 weeks later, he had learnt writing and counting numbers and draing flowers. At the end of the first month, he was able to read and write his own name, dance, and draw fruits.
On completion of his 3 months stay a final evaluation was done and it was found that Mohit was living an addiction free life. He was studying regularly, bathing and eating timely. Other improvements in his behaviour, especially towards staff and other children were also noted. He even started liking the company of the other children.
During this period, his mother visited the shelter 6 times with a request to send Mohit with her. Every time, she was made to understand that he is there for his own good only and was politely asked to return back. But when the time came for her to receive her son, she was extremely happy to see how much her son had changed. He looked neat and clean and was well behaved. More importantly, he started taking interest in studies and promised to never use solution again. A telephonic follow-up with the family in a few weeks confirmed that he is now regularly going to school and he is no more involved in any substance abuse.
14 year old Maniram was found alone and trembling at a railway station by SATHI. After a brief conversation, he revealed that his parents passed away when he was little and that he now stayed with his grandparents.
“They are poor and I am not able to go to school. They force me to do household chores and field work. So I ran away,” he said.
We brought him to the shelter and through counselling came to know that he was from Mankapur, U.P. But it was only after repeated interactions, that Maniram started telling the truth. “My parents are alive. I don’t like to study. I got angry and left home,” he said.
He said that he went to Lucknow and worked in a hotel. When he did not get paid for his work for a long time, he ran away from there and was found by SATHI.
During counselling, he was explained the importance of education and was told that only his parents could give him that. It took some time for Maniram to change his mind but after numerous sessions, he agreed to go home and continue studies. He started crying and expressed his desire to meet his mother. He gave his father’s contact number who was elated to hear about his son!
Maniram had left from home a month earlier to visit his uncle in Jalandhar, Punjab but had run away mid-way. His parents were guided on how they could take care of Maniram and support him if he wanted to learn anything apart from studies too. Maniram then returned back home with his father by the order of CWC.
9-year old Alok (name changed) was sitting on a platform in Varanasi railway station staring at food stall. He was in a terrible condition – hungry, with bleeding lips, a cut on his chin and burn marks on his arms. Our outreach staff watched him for a while and approached him and asked if he had anything to eat. To this, he replied ‘no’ and after giving him food, he was taken to a shelter and immediately given medical attention.
Alok had run away from his parents’ home in Allahabad after being badly beaten by his father. He was living with his parents since a couple of years. Before this, he lived with his uncle and aunt in Patna since he was a year old. Both his parents worked in Allahabad and could not take care of him.
Alok’s uncle and aunt showered him with love and took good care of him, so much so that he considered them his real parents. When he went back to Allahabad to live with his parents and his younger brother, he suddenly found himself in a new atmosphere and did not like the restrictions it posed. He was also asked to take care of his younger brother and was regularly scolded and beaten.
One day, his younger brother had complained about him, which led to the beating by his father. Alok felt neglected, lonely and ran away from home to go to Patna.
At the shelter, Alok relaxed in the presence of other children and slowly started opening up during the counselling sessions. He was a sweet, intelligent and polite boy. His parents were called to the shelter. Alok continued to refer to them has his uncle and aunt and said that his parents lived in Patna. In fact, it was revealed to us only after they came to the shelter. We were however surprised to see that they were unapologetic about their treatment of the child. Eventually, his uncle and aunt were also called to Varanasi and they were willing to take Alok under their care.
Child Welfare Committee, Varanasi, also took cognizance of the facts and it was decided to send him to his uncle and aunt. They were delighted to take him back and asked his parents to stay away from him. They also asked his parents to pay INR 7000 every month for his education and other expenses.
Alok, thus went back to the loving home of his uncle and aunt in Patna instead of going to his parents.