10 more families re-united by Sathi-Prayas in New Year

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New Delhi, Jan 4 (UNI) Words were not enough for Salaudin's mother to express her gratitude and happiness to get her son back after three and half years, as Sathi-Prayas, NGOs working with railway platforms and streets children, helped 10 such families to re-unite in the beginning of the New Year.

Many such thanks and good wishes were showered by parents for the NGOs at the closing ceremony of the one-month Sathi-Prayas ''De-addiction and Home Orientation Camp'', where children rescued from New Delhi railway station were put in the camp after enrolling; 10 of them were safely handed over to their respective parents here on Wednesday.

This was the second such camp organised by Prayas along with SATHI, in their two years of partnership work, in collaboration with Northern Railway and Railway Protection Force (RPF) to support children on the railway platforms, motivate them, educate and rehabilitate them with proper care and guidance.

Prayas, which has been working for children's rights and helping them meet their basic needs, assisting them to improve their economic and social capacities to meet their livelihood, and giving shelters to thousands of street children for 20 years now, has 227 centres operating across the country with various projects enrolling thousands every year.

In less than even four years, working for the children living on railway platform, Prayas has been able to re-unite around 2500 such children, 300 last year alone with their families, with their guidance, help and support.

Children are rescued and brought to Prayas shelters, where they are counselled and those willing to go back home are taken to their families as early as possible. Others who don't want to go back or whose families not traced are enrolled into "De addiction and home-orientation camps", where they are kept with proper care and love.

Motivating the children and modifying their behaviour both directly and indirectly through mediation, exercises, moral stories, non formal education, discussions and cultural activities, among others are the lessons given in camps to make the children capable to live a healthy and dignified life.

''Drug addiction cases are very high among the railway and street children. They are very vulnerable and hardly takes any time to get addicted to harmful substances and accustomed to street life. These camps sensitise, prepares and re-integrates such children with their family to live a healthy life,'' General Secretary of Prayas Amod K Kant told UNI.

''We have got great success in the New Delhi station alone, but the work is not yet completed. Contact centres at major junctions of the country will be set up very soon to operate such camps and give these children a new life,'' added Mr Kant.

''In this New Year, these 10 children have got a new life to start everything afresh. I am satisfied that atleast 10 such children are being re-united with their families. I hope many such camp comes up and whatever support and help Railways can provide will definately be provided for saving lives of many innocents,'' said Shri Prakash, GM of Northern Railways, who was present as Special guest at the closing ceremony.

Parental scolding and beating, alcoholism, city attraction, addictions, livelihood, unwillingness to study are some of the reasons for which children flee from their homes.

''We rescue 50 children every day from New Delhi platforms and place them in our shelters. But, as there is no place like home, our organisation's first aim is to take the child to their families as soon as possible,'' Afsar Ahmed Khan, Project Manager of Prayas told UNI.

Adding more to Afsar's words, Basmara Shaly, Project co-ordinator, SATHI, asserted if a child stayed at the platform for more than two days, they fell prey to drug addiction, sexual exploitation, thefts very easily. So, early intervention was very necessary to save a child.

''We have outrage workers, who are on duty from morning till night at the platforms. They keep an eye on the new arrivals of children, stay in continuous touch with these children for 15 days to a month and with the support of vendors, RPF, coolie and police, we rescue them and place them into our shelters,'' Mr Shaly said, adding SATHI, the Bangalore-based NGO, which has already been working on 23 railway stations across the country, has rescued about 4,100 children in the last one year.

Performing all such good works, the volenteers and members of Sathi-Prayas seemed quite satisfied of whatever they gave the parents back. ''Towards the end, its just the happiness which matters. Looking the smiling faces of children to see their parents after a long time and willing to go back to their homes, I feel we have got our reward,'' averred Mr Afsar enthusiastically, ready to start the next railway project very soon.

Work to rescue children from north India railway platforms is being taken seriously now as Sathi-Prayas is on full-time duty operating in Bihar at Patna railway station, which is to be the second project taken up after the New Delhi station, and have planned to operate at Old Delhi and Nizammuddin, Lucknow, Varanasi and other few stations very soon.

UNI PY KD DB1118

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