Bengaluru

Children’s day: Tales of perseverance and grit

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Fighting against their benumbing adversities, these children saw the brighter side of life. They have now transitioned to a supportive world; and are dreaming big, determined to realise their ambitions.

Robert R. has been flooded with congratulatory messages this week after he bagged the ‘best player award’ in the ‘9th sub-junior boys 9-a side football national championship 2019’ in which he represented Karnataka. His team was the winning team in the nationals held last week in Maharashtra. Robert, who is a striker, scored two goals in the finals.

The 14-year-old has been living at the Home of Faith Charitable orphanage in Bengaluru for the last seven years as his mother was unable to take care of him. “When I saw the big boys in the orphanage playing, I wanted to play the game too,” he said admitting that he never thought he would be so “crazy” about the game. Nothing, he said, gives him an adrenaline rush like the “the beautiful game”. “When I am playing, I never feel sad and lonely, and I love the team work.”

Tejas Ramakrishna, the founder and director for the non-government organisation, Sparky Football, who has been coaching Robert for the last four years, said, “Football comes naturally to Robert and he always had to drive to make it big in football.”

Robert isn’t afraid to dream big, and hopes that one day he will become as famous as Brazilian professional footballer Neymar Jr.

She fled to Bengaluru to avoid being forced in child marriage

Rekha V’s ambition is backed by determination and grit. She escaped from a situation that would have seen her forced into marriage soon after class X, and instead focused on her eduction. Today, at the age of 19, the young woman from Chikkaballapur district wants to become an IAS officer.

As a child, Rekha wanted to make something of her life and realised that education was the answer. But soon after she finished class ten, her family arranged for her to get married as they could not afford to educate her. “My dreams came crashing down on me. But there was a fire within me and I wanted to study further and achieve something,” she said. She ran away from home to Bengaluru, where was produced before the Child Welfare Committee and later got help from the NGO Sparsha Trust.

She enrolled in a computer course and secured a 90% in the second pre-university examination. She is now is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in a Benglauru college. Rekha is determined to write the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) examination and become an IAS officer. “My experience has given me direction. There are enough legislations that ban child marriage, but it is still prevalent particularly in rural areas,” she said. Rekha wants to work to help young girls like her as she has seen “so many childhoods robbed because of marriage.”

Finding recourse in law after being rescued from a construction site

Sunil’s reading list is unusual. Unlike most 20-year-olds he loves reading laws. He wants to bring about change in the legal justice system in the country.

When Sunil (name changed) was 11, he was made to work with his parents on a construction site. He toiled day in and day out for two years with no pay. It was only after he was rescued from a construction site in R.T. Nagar in Bengaluru that he thought of starting a “new life”.

Instead, he was given the devastating news that he had heart ailment. With the help of Echo Centre of Juvenile Justice, he was able to get funds for an open heart surgery. Today, the young man wants to pursue law and help more children like him. “Had I not been rescued, I would have continued to work on the streets and live the life my parents lead,” he said.

She escaped torture to nurture UPSC dreams

Parvati was 15 and had just completed Class IX in 2016 when she was abducted, forcibly married and subjected to sexual violence by a 20-year old man in the same area where she lived in Kalaburagi.

Her Dalit parents, who together earned about ₹12,000 doing oddjobs, did not know what to do when the abductor turned up with the girl to announce that they were already married at a temple in Chittapur, with the approval of his parents.

Parvati, however, did not want to accept defeat. She had seen how a minor girl from her colony who was “sold” to a Rajasthani man in what was infamously known as Gujjar Ki Shadi, was rescued by the Child Welfare Committee (CWC) and police officials. She managed to call Childline (1098) and within hours, a team of CWC members, government officials and the police rescued her.

Parvati was given shelter in the Government Girls’ Home and was admitted to Class X. She was given special counselling and coaching. It was a day of triumph when she passed the SSLC. She then moved to Bengaluru where she got admission into a residential school. She eventually joined a degree college in Devanahalli. One of the officers involved in her rescue has now helped her enrol in a UPSC coaching centre. Randeep D, Additional Commissioner of BBMP, has agreed to pay her fees for four years at ₹ 2.20 lakh a year from the BBMP funds.

“Parvati is presently studying in the 1st semester. She attends her regular degree classes in the first half of the day and UPSC coaching session in the latter half of the day,” says Vittal Chikani, an activist and the CWC member involved in her rescue.

(Name of the survivor has been changed to protect her identity)

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Printable version | Dec 6, 2019 1:08:10 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/bangalore/childrens-day-tales-of-perseverance-and-grit/article29966360.ece

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