On 11th of September 2006, when the Jamghat team started its new project at Jama Masjid, a wild thought struck all of us. Despite so many people in front of our eyes there and on other streets of Delhi we were not able to digest the fact that these people actually eat, drink and sleep in those conditions.
So we decided to have a first hand feel of the condition of homeless people and specially kids on the streets of Delhi at night. Finally we thought of sleeping on Delhi roads for a night. While we were deciding on the date of sleep out a number of questions crossed our minds, like ‘can these people sleep here without taking drugs and suletion(solution)’ and then in the process finalized the date as 23rd of September 2006.
On 23rd before the sleep out we did a night walk which started at 7:00 p.m. from Old Delhi Railway Station. The four of us that is Amit, Vinay, Vinod and me(Kaivalya) were accompanied by John who is an intern from England and is doing a research project on street kids in Delhi and by Upamanyu who is student of Delhi University and a very dear friend of Jamghat.
From 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. we covered the the Purani Dilli area including Fatehpuri area of Chandni Chowk, Kashmere Gate, I.S.B.T. and Yamuna Bazar.
After the walk we got a very positive feedback from John who was now even more determined to work towards the problems of street kids in Delhi and then with good wishes left us behind. Then came the time to sleep out with the people on the streets and only the sky above us.
The place where we slept was a divider on the outer ring road near Yamuna Bazar. The reason why we selected this place was that it was prone to all kindsof dangers from from Police Harassment to Gundas to Accidents due to fast moving heavy vehicles at night.
We went through some crazy experiences at night. Once our sleep was broken by two big rats fighting near our toes and they scaring us rather than we scaring them. Sometimes drug addicts came and started keenly staring at us but they didn’t do anything and went away quietly. But the most scary incident was when a heavy truck almost ran over us it actually kissed our heads and went away.
In the middle of the night at around 2 we woke up because of the cold weather that night. All of us were shivering as we didn’t have any blanket or bed sheet to cover ourselves. But this forced us to think about the situation of other people on chilly winter nights of December and January. Then we got up and went to I.S.B.T. to have a cup of tea after which we went to another pavement which was stinking due to urine smell but when we found so many people already sleeping out there we thought that even we should try it out.
By this time were so tired that as soon as we laid down there we went to sleep for two hours. This gave us partial answers to some of our questions. We actually were able to empathize with people who do so much of physical work throughout the day and are therefore able to sleep in those dangerous conditions.
In the morning we did a feedback session in which each one of us in a couple of lines said what came straight from our hearts following are those statements:-
AMIT- Kabhi Paise nahi honge, ghar nahi hoga aur kam nahi hoga to in logon ki tarah mehnat karke sadak pe soke bhi zindagi ka saath nibha lenge par usool nahi bechenge.
VINAY- Yaar uth ke issue ke baare mein soch ke bhi nahi soch pa raha hoon ya log akhir yahaan har roz manage kaise karte hain.
VINOD- Ajeeb si khushi hai ki hum issue ko janane ke liye sadak pe utar aaye.
UPAMANYU- Maain Dilli mein 1.5 saal se akela hostel mein reh raha hoon par aaj tak kisi bhi tarah ka nasha nahi kiya but agar yahan 1 mahine bhi rahoonga to bure se bura nasha karne lagoonga.
KAIVALYA- Sharir se aam aadmi hone ki gandh aa rahi hai aur amiron ke chotepan pe gussa aa raha ki wo apne faayede ke alawa kuch nahi sochte but at the same time I feel very luck to have been brought up in a secure environment.
But till now a lot of questions disturb us and we seriously need to find answers to them so that we could actually WORK WITH KIDS RATHER THAN TRYING THE STEROETYPE WAY OF WORKING FOR THEM.
Also in the end we on behalf of Jamghat would like to invite more and more volunteers who could help us out in our efforts in any which way and work with us towards building a better environment for the street kids.
HAZAARON KHWAISHEIN AISI