ANDHRA PRADESH

We will never do it to others: rescued children

NEW HOPE: The rescued domestic child labourers engrossed in studies. — Photo: D. Gopalakrishnan.

NEW HOPE: The rescued domestic child labourers engrossed in studies. — Photo: D. Gopalakrishnan.  

Puja S. Navin

HYDERABAD: The oldest is 12 years and the youngest seven, not an age to take a stand on life.

Experience has packed so much into their small lives that they are certain they will never employ children in their homes when they grow up.

Seven children employed as domestic help in Durga Bai Deshmukh colony rescued on Tuesday, believe school is the best place for children and growing with parents is their most important need.

"It's very painful for children to work as domestic labour," says Lakshmi, who along with her twin sister Ramulamma and elder sister Suvarna can't recall how old they were when they first came to work.

Hard routine

Similar is the story of the others. For a paltry sum ranging from Rs. 3000 to Rs. 8000 annually (average Rs. 15 per day) children wake up at odd hours and work.

Shyamala, barely 7 years old, discovered being a girl means no childhood.

While her four elder brothers study, her father got her employed has as domestic help.

Her innocence does not reveal the pain of betrayal her little heart carries, but her words say it loud and clear, "children should study," she says.

And this is exactly what each of them is getting ready for in new blue uniforms at the Residential Bridge Camp, a hostel-cum-school at Saidabad, where these children have been sheltered under the National Child Labour Project.

Back to books

Narsimha bends over a book from which he is copying the alphabets with Shaymala and her new friend Kala taking him in tow. Bhageshwari recalls the lines of an `English' rhyme she knew - "Twinkle, Twinkle...Little Star...up above in sky..."she speaks hiding her face now and then. `Who will play the gilli danda, who will play the small games in the village, if all children go away to work?" sings the Cultural Coordinator at the Camp for the children, who listen as their smiles reveal how much they soak up the happiness of a newly found life and return to a lost childhood.

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