New Delhi, Jan 25 (PTI) As the country gears up todisplay its military and cultural might on Republic Day,working and street children in the national capital say theytoo want to express their patriotism but do not have the meansto do so.
With a ray of hope in their eyes, these children cametogether singing patriotic songs during a function organisedby a city-based NGO that works for welfare of kids.The NGO Chetna praised the role of street children whothrough their acts of bravery helped others last year.
"We also want to hold a flag in our hands and singpatriotic songs. We have ambitions but due to poverty we cannot realise them," said Ali, a 14-year-old boy who stays atNizamuddin railway station.
Ali keeps vigil at the station and helps the policeand NGOs to send back new children back home who arrive herein search of work after running away from their parents.
"These children help in maintaining the dignity of thenational flag also. First, they work in factories that makesmall polythene flags. Later, when people throw away theflags, these children pick them up as well so that they arenot stepped upon," says Sanjay Gupta, director of Chetna.
Baadshah, a 13-year-old boy, works in one such factorythat makes national flags to be sold on traffic lights.
"I want to study and be a doctor. But my father asksme to earn and does not allow me to study. I am not satisfiedonly by making flags but I want to contribute for my countryby being a doctor," he says.
When asked about the significance of the Republic Day,Shikha, a 14-year-old girl says, "It''s usual business for us.
I go and collect empty glass bottles to earn. Republic Daycomes every year but nothing has changed for us."
Many of these children have had encounters with policeand say that police needs to be more human with them.
"They do not treat us properly. Sometimes, they beatus as well. It would be better if lady policemen deal withstreet children as they do not thrash us," says Azad, a 12-year-old homeless who lives in a camp in Kirti Nagar.
Azad saved the life of a friend when he was leftbleeding after some people thrashed him."My friend was unconscious. Some people beat him upsaying he had stolen something. I immediately collected moneyfrom other children and took him to a hospital. He is finenow," says Azad.
Street children in Delhi face a lot of challenges andtheir such small but brave efforts have gone unnoticed so far.
"Government should give away bravery awards at stateand district level also so that there can be more children whocan be inspiration for their friends," says Gupta.