|These street kids double up as Good Samaritans|
|From returning lost objects to owners to helping runaways, NGO put street kids on right path|
Ahmedabad, February 13: Kailash, a mentally-challenged 20-year-old, does not even have a roof over his head. But that does not stop him from being a Good Samaritan. Just a few months back, this ragpicker found a mobile phone on board the Sayajinagari Express at the Vadodara railway station. Instead of pocketing it, he approached the Vikas Jyot Trust, an NGO that works with street children, and sought its help to return the phone to its owner. The VJT helped to return the phone to the commuter from Surat who had accidentally left it behind on the train, and Kailash was given a small cash reward by him.
Kailash’s good deed is not only about honesty but also about providing the right direction to other street children, said Kuntal Vaghani, a VJT member. The incident also illustrates the difference that non-formal education being imparted by them has made in the lives of street children like Kailash, she said, adding that there have been other instances of street children returning lost objects to their rightful owners.
Kailash works as a VJT volunteer and guides runaway street children from the Vadodara railway station to VJT co-ordinators. Like him, there are 11 such leaders at six other centers in the city, said Jyoti Dinesh, state children project co-ordinator, VJT. VJT helps such children get in touch with remand homes and contact suitable authorities in the city they have strayed from. "If needed, the runaway children are taken to the remand home here and helped to consult the remand home of the city where they came from,” she said
Kuntal said that not only Kailash, even other street children have displayed changes for the better through sustained intervention of NGOs. She mentioned the instance of a 14-year-old hearing-impaired boy, Ganesh Patni, and his friend, 13-year-old Vijay Patni (13), who found a purse containing cheques worth Rs 10,000 and Rs 3,000 in cash, which was then returned to the owner.
The Trust has also roped in street children near Sursagar to prevent people from committing suicide in the lake. Dinesh said, ever since the children started intervening, the numbers of people committing suicide have fallen.
Talking about the non-formal education imparted to street children, Dinesh said they were given basic training in language. "Also, plays are performed to educate these children about AIDS/HIV and STDs.” The kids are also advised on how to save money.