Siblings from Gulbarga narrate how education helped them turn their lives around

“If you happen to see young children in a tent near the house, please ensure that they go to school. Poor parents do not know about facilities available in this city to get their children educated. Such a noble act will bring a lot of change in the children’s lives.”

This was a plea made by third-year- B.Com student Lakshmi before students assembled here on Wednesday to celebrate the World Day against Child Labour.

“I have gone through the ordeal to come up to this level. I am fortunate to be identified by counsellors from Prajna Counselling Centre, who admitted me to Chinnara Kendra when I was 9. This has definitely changed my life.” Ms. Lakshmi was all praise for the centre and its leader Hilda Rayappan. “It is her support that has given me the courage to speak before you from the stage,” she said.

Lakshmi and her younger brother Yellappa, a first year B.Com student from Government First Grade College, who hail from Surupur taluk in Gulbarga, were among the few who spoke about the change education had brought in their lives.

“We did not have enough to eat or proper clothes to wear when we came to this city with our parents in 1998. I still remember the day when an officer threw a stone on me when he saw me overhearing his conversation with other officers near my tent,” Ms. Lakshmi recalled. She resolved that she would become an officer one day by getting through Karnataka Public Service Commission examination. “I earn during my free time,” she said.

Her brother Yellappa remembered Kusuma and Chandrakala, his caretakers in Child Home in Panambur, who, Mr. Yellappa said, attended to each of his needs in childhood. “Mahalakshmi madam in Bajpe Ashrama taught me well. I cannot forget the food and shelter provided at the BCM (Backward Class and Minorities) Hostel,’ said Mr. Yellappa, who wants to pursue a career as a Chartered Accountant.

Kumari Nirmala, also from Surpur, said she was among the four daughters who accompanied their parents who came to the city in 1998. She did suffer physical harassment doing domestic work in several houses. Her life changed after joining Chinnara Kendra. Ms. Nirmala, who has completed B.A and B.Ed courses, is searching for a job. “There are many children like me from Bagalkot, Belgaum and Bidar, who still being deprived of education. They need to be brought to mainstream,” she said.

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