KOZHIKODE: A get-together organised in Mumbai was different from what they had ever experienced before and one they would cherish for a long time.
The children had come from diverse backgrounds - caste, religion, region and language were different. Those from elite background mingled with street children. The discussions held on the occasion focussed on the issues that affected them all.
Being invited to participate in the National Children's Meet in Mumbai was an honour the three children from Kozhikode least expected, an invitation that was accepted with great eagerness by all of them.
R. Govindan, M. Mahesh and Jaison Luis had the honour of participating at the National Children's Meet in Mumbai from May 31 to June 2. The three were selected on a district-level basis.
As many as 15 children from Kerala from Wayanad, Ernakulam, Thiruvananthapuram and Thrissur were invited to attend the conclave in Mumbai.
Both Govindan and Mahesh are students of Class X and Class IX of Malabar Christian College High School and attended the meet as representatives of the Childline Kozhikode.
Jaison Luis is a plus-two student of Rehmania Higher Secondary School of the Association for Welfare of Handicapped.
Govindan, originally from Tamil Nadu, who came to Childline while a student of Class IV, said the meet proved to be a novel experience in every way. In the first place, this was a rare exposure with children of his age from all sections of society and he managed to converse with his peers with a smattering of English and Hindi.
Govindan had lost his father and his mother is terminally ill. The interactions with his peer group proved to be worthwhile by all accounts.
The group discussions focussed on issues such as school education, health, children's institutions, police and juvenile crimes.
Mahesh, whose parents were migrant quarry workers, had sought refuge at Childline after his father fell ill. He was placed in a group that discussed health issues at the meet.
The discussions that were codified later revealed the discrimination children from the lower economic groups was subject to, especially in healthcare and immunisation. The low nutritional status because of the poor diet also came to the fore. Many of these children had no BPL card or birth certificate. Yet they were confident and articulate. Childline Kozhikode coordinator N. Babu says both Mahesh and Govindan will be given an opportunity to pursue higher education provided they are earnest.