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Runaway children of yesterday, teachers-nurses of today

Written by: Staff
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Mumbai, May 10 (UNI) Even as a number of children run away from homes across the country to earn name and fame in the tinseltown, two NGOs here are working to provide them a new lease of life and opportunities to become teachers, nurses and mechanics.

'Snehsadan' and 'Aamchi Kholi', who are working for runaway kids, take pride in the fact that if not all, they have managed to groom some of these strayed children by providing them an opportunity for education and getting a decent employment.

Praveena Joshi, a social worker with Snehsadan, told UNI that their efforts for the last 40 years have started yielding results as seven boys and two girls appeared for the SSC examination this year and 10 girls and a boy for the national open school exams. Also, four boys and a girl have taken class XII examinations, while many children have now grown up to educated adults and are doing full-time jobs.

'' They run away from home and get off trains at the last stop at Chhattarpati Shivaji Terminus(CST). But on reaching Mumbai a street child quickly learns that nothing comes free, not even the freedom he had hoped when he left home. Helping these kids is an herculean task, but the patience has borne fruit,'' Praveena said.

She said they mostly come across children, who have left home because of lack of support, love and affection in their family, or have been targets of various abuses. Also, some of them just ran away from home by being attracted to the glitz and glamour world of Mumbai.''One of them actually came to Mumbai because he wanted to meet cricketer Sachin Tendulkar,'' she added.

Praveena said to a certain extent they have been able to transform these ''yesterday's street children into today's responsible adults,'' several of them have started working as teacher, nurse, mechanic, driver and other jobs.

''We try to understand them as their priorities are different from ours. They are not bothered about the family trauma. They are openly critical of their parents and blatantly honest about their plans. Most of them don't look beyond their noses,'' she said.

''On our part we take a long-term view and through counselling, we also manage to persuade them to rejoin their families,'' she added.

Snehsadan runs 16 homes where at least 400 children live. It has a centre at the railway station itself. It also has two contact centres at CST and Borivili, a crisis centre for women and children and an AIDS hospice.

UNI LS GK VD RK0940

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