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Educating railway children for their rehabilitation

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Educating railway children for their rehabilitation

CHILDLINE 1098 Service » 1098 News » Educating railway children for their rehabilitation

CHILDLINE India Foundation works excessively towards the reformation and help of marginalized children. These children are frequently denied basic education and are forced to involve themselves in odd jobs so that they can earn some money for their livelihood. CHILDLINE from its inception has always aimed at providing assistance to the needs of these marginalized children and link them to long term services which will help them to lead a better life.

Bustling with activity, Kanpur Central is one of the busiest railway stations in India. CHILDLINE Kanpur noticed that many children make a living for themselves past running trains by selling pan-masala and water bottles to passengers and collecting trash from trains and platforms. Many run on the platform towards every incoming train to collect empty bottles. They do this every day in order to earn money for food and other bare necessities for themselves and for their younger siblings. For most of these children, this is their way for survival as they have no one to take care of them. In some cases the father has deserted them for another woman and the mother is nowhere to be found.

 Educating railway children
Children receive stationary to help them study

Early this year, GRP (Government Railway Police) Kanpur with CHILDLINE Kanpur started an outreach for children at the railway station. The idea was to reach out to these children and convince them to spend a couple of hours every day at Kanpur Central where they would be given basic education and food. CHILDLINE Kanpur and the GRP team had to visit the children living in and around the railway station regularly to encourage them to attend the first day of the temporary school at the station. Many children were reluctant to take advantage of this opportunity as they felt that it was a waste of time and that this would keep them away from their everyday work which they did on the platform to earn a few hundred rupees. Both teams tried their best to influence the children by handing out free cookies and sweets to them.

The following day, the response of the children was amazing! 11 children had turned up on the first day itself! The children were welcomed with open arms and applauded for their effort and enthusiasm. After the initial introductions, their education level was enquired. Some had studied till class 1 or 2 and some had not even been to a school. All the children were handed out fresh notebooks, pencils and other stationary which made them smile from ear to ear. On the first day, the volunteers and staff from CHILDLINE Kanpur and officers from GRP taught the children the basics of English and Hindi language as well as Mathematics. Each child’s progress was recorded and awarded with biscuits and sweets.

 Educating railway children
Children introduce themselves on the first day of school

The Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) who was present on the first day appealed to the children to attend classes daily and they were also asked to bring their friends who lived in and around the station so that they too can learn and become responsible citizens. After a fruitful day of knowledge and teaching, the day ended with all the children coming together and offering a prayer. The enthusiasm and earnestness among the children to learn was completely inspiring. They realized that they didn’t want to lead the life they had grown into; they wanted to grow into better individuals.

On the subsequent days, the effort gained momentum, and an increased number of children attended this makeshift school. GRP Inspector Mr. Pandey made arrangements to give out mid day lunch to the children. Even a hair dresser was called up to cut their hair! The children were handed out soaps and clean clothes and were taught about the need and importance of personal hygiene.

The classes are being carried out regularly for two hours every day, and as a new child joins it strengthens the belief that a small effort can bring about a big change.