For homeless and orphaned children in flood-ravaged Uttarakhand

A group of Delhi’s street children have collected Rs.20,000, which they will submit to the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund on Tuesday, as their contribution to ensure that homeless children stuck in Uttarakhand’s floods and landslips are “taken out safely”.

“Street children and the homeless are the worst hit when disaster strikes. They are often left to fend for themselves. And without family support, these children are virtually on their own. They also have no one to speak for them and by collecting money for them we want to highlight their vulnerability, besides helping the government carry out the rescue operation,” said Vikas, who is part of the street children’s federation, Badhte Kadam, which collected the money.

The 17-year-old works as a rag-picker and lives with his mother and younger brother in Nizamuddin.

The group has over 4,000 children who voluntarily deposit Rs.5 per month to build a monetary resource, which is then used for welfare activities conducted by the organisation.

“The initiative to contribute towards helping the homeless children and those orphaned because of the natural calamity was the children’s idea. They have been following the news,” said Sanjay Gupta of Childhood Enhancement Through Training and Action, a non-government organisation working for child rights.

“Children in the group, many of whom are rag-pickers, homeless and into substance abuse, spoke about the difficulties they face living on their own. This problem gets magnified when disaster strikes,” said Mr. Gupta.

“We hope the children will be rescued safely and put in homes that actually give them a shot at building a secure future. We appeal to the Centre to ensure that these children don’t get lost and end up on the street, vulnerable to abuse of all kinds,” said Vikas.

“These children also want to tell society that if we can raise Rs.20,000 to help those in distress in Uttarakhand, imagine how much more those with means and money can. Sometimes, we have to get up and take a stand and ensure that we raise our voice for the voiceless. We are taking a stand to ensure that the plight of street children and those orphaned does not go unnoticed and unheard,” said Shano, who is also associated with the NGO.

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