Prime Minister Modi's call to dedicate this Diwali to Indian Army, was taken seriously by group of street children in Delhi. 200 street children who live in difficult situation near stations, traffic signals and under flyovers dedicated their Diwali to Indian Army.
I many a times saw Indian Army vehicles when I sell flowers at traffic signal, but was not aware that they are the one who save our lives, said 12 years old Rukmani who hales from Rajasthan, and helps others make their festival full of colours.
I wanted to join Indian Army, but left home due to some family problem. I know I cannot get any chance to join army as I sniff substance and do not go to school, said Golu, 14, who is a bottle picker near railway station.
We made map of India and pictures of solders. Then we lit lamps to extend our solidarity, with slogans 'Bharat Mata Ki Jai, said 16 years old Jyoti who lives in a night shelter and leads Badthe Kadam- A Federation of Street and Working Children.
Children living at station always get emotional during festivals, as they lacks parental support. 'We always celebrate all important festivals like Eid, Holi, Diwali, Xmas with street children,' said Surendra Kumar, who works with CHETNA NGO at Old Delhi Station.
'We strongly believe these children have high potential to contribute in Indian society if given right opportunities. They overheard about tension at boarder areas and decided to dedicated their Diwali to Indian Army,' said Sanjay Gupta, Director Childhood Enhancement through Training and Action (CHETNA) NGO.
On another occasion CHETNA organised a residential workshop for street children. The four day exercise was exiting and eventful for the 70 street and working children, who are leading their chirpy childhood inspite of all odds in their life, nothing in favour of them. These children were part of leadership residential camp (14-18th October) organised by NGO Childhood Enhancement through Training and Action (CHETNA) at Indira Gandhi Holiday Home for Children near Delhi.
'I live under flyover near Sari Kale Khan with my parents. I never thought that I will even come out of Delhi. I am now aware how to protect myself and my peers in case of abuse,' said 12 years old Rubina (name changed), who has recently joined Government school. She works as a rag picker which she does to contribute to her family.
'I hardly eat one full meal in a day. I only eat two pieces bread with cup of tea in the morning and daal Roti in the evening. Here I get three meals and morning evening snacks,' said 13 years old Babu (name changed) who does wood carving and last year became part of Street to School initiative of CHETNA-Toybox NGO.
'In my area more then 200 children like me do waste picking. I made a small group of peers and tell them what rights they have as child ,' said 13 years old Nisha (name changed), who is beaten almost everyday by her father for no reasons.
'I have learnt leadership qualities. I want to be like PM Modi,' said 12 years Pradeep, who got admission in 2nd standard in Govt school with help of CHETNA-ipartner in Sarai Kale Khan.
'This was the 58th residential workshop organised every year. Till date more then 1800 street children have been trained around their rights, leadership and life skills,' said Sanjay Gupta Director of CHETNA.
'The workshops which are residential in nature provide ample opportunity to street children to reflect about their present and dream situation, the hurdle that they have to face for their own development, the rights that they enjoy as child, and how to protect themselves and peer who are victim of physical, emotional and sexual abuse. The culmination in presence of external visitors, gives these children courage to speak and articulate their issues. The method used are child friendly, full of fun and frolic,' added Mr Gupta.
'I would like to be a District Magistrate,' said 13 years old Kajal, who originally hails from Bihar and lives in a night shelter near Sari Kale Khan.
'We sincerely believe that all the children have equal rights. In these four days not only children, but we as adults also learn how to work effectively with street children, said Usha Justa Coordinator with CHETNA.