Street children attend summer camp of a different kind

Street children attend summer camp of a different kind
Jayadev Mukundan
Posted online: Wednesday, April 09, 2008 at 12:36:49
Updated: Wednesday, April 09, 2008 at 12:36:49

Pune, April 08 As children across the city get ready to attend various adventure camps and craft honing workshops during their summer vacations, 34 street children will be learning the essential art of saving their daily wages. Initiated by Sarv Seva Sangh (SSS), that has been working for the cause of underprivileged children and HIV infected persons, these three-day camps are part of SSS’s tireless efforts over the past decade, aimed at bettering the lot of street kids.

So if 19-year-old Praveen Patil who used to squander the Rs 100 he earned everyday, by selling re-filled drinking water packets at the railway station, on drugs and alcohol is now saving most of that amount to secure his future, he has SSS to thank for the change.

Same goes for the 34 kids who are presently attending the three-day camp that started on April 7, Monday at Mount Patrick Academy. All these children are involved in doing odd menial jobs at the station ranging from sweeping to selling of small items. And even though SSS volunteers are well aware of the fact that it’s neigh impossible for them to revolutionise the lives of these children in a single day, it has not deterred them from the task. “It is a gradual process and we are sure we can instill some good values in them. The main problem in these children is that they lack a goal in life. We are trying to motivate them and develop an urge to live in them,” said Sunita Manj, senior social activist associated with SSS.

She added that all these children stayed on the railway station premises and almost all were addicted to drugs like ganja, tambaku and even heroin. “But we are getting good response from these children as almost everybody, who attended the previous camp came to participate in this camp too,” she added. SSS holds these camps four times a year. In recent years, the organisation had made changes in the nature of its camps to suit the children. Earlier, the duration of the camps were six to seven days. “But we found that these children are not used to such continuous sessions, due to which they would run away from the camp midway. This forced us to reduce the duration of the camps. We find three days is more appealing to the children,” said Manj.

In the camp apart from games, these children are also taught lessons that bring home the importance of saving money and adopting certain values in life. Last year the organisation even took the children to a near by amusement park for a picnic. In addition to these camps, six-to-seven dedicated staffers of SSS visit the railway stations and other dwelling places of these children on a daily basis and monitor their activities.

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