In schools across the city on Monday, Children’s Day will be marked by cultural programmes, games and festivities. On this occasion, we bring to you stories of four children who have battled against tremendous odds, and despite not having the launch pad of a safe and secure upbringing, have managed to achieve a measure of success in their lives.
Nearly a year ago, Durga’s story shocked us. She was rescued from a house in HSR Layout, where she worked as domestic help and was brutally abused by her employer, an Infosys employee. But today, Durga doesn’t want to speak about her gory past, or of her childhood in a West Bengal village, where orphaned early, she quit schooling after Class 3, worked as domestic help and was then brought to Bangalore.
Recuperated and healthy, Durga is all smiles today and chatters incessantly about her experience on stage. “I did a Kannada folk dance, and we are up for an encore,” she says, still attired in her costume. She is studying in the seventh standard at the Association for Promotion of Social Action (APSA), a non-governmental organisation. Durga speaks in fluent Kannada and says is most excited about learning English.
“I do not want to look back. I want to study hard, and maybe become a software engineer and work in a big office.” If not, she says, she would like to help rescue and rehabilitate children who continue to work as child labourers. Though she emphasises she does not want to look back at the horrendous torture and pain afflicted upon her while she worked here, her childish demeanour belies her grit and desire to “change the world”. She says: “I want to do everything I can to make sure what happened to me does not happen to anyone else.”
Shruthi was only six when her father was sent to Gulbarga prison for fraud. With a brother barely a few years older than her, and her mother who struggled to make ends meet on their farm in Hariyal, she was forced to discontinue school.
Today, three years later, she beams when her rank is mentioned. “I stood fifth in a class of 48 students,” she says. Brought to Bangalore by NGO Socare Ind, she studies in an English medium school. A far cry from her single-roomed rural school where teachers rarely came, her rank is a testament of her enthusiasm for her new school here.
To catch up with her classmates by learning English from scratch was understandably difficult. “I had to practise A for apple, B for banana in second standard, even though the other children were reading English stories.” Add to this is the difficulty of having to face the stigma of being the daughter of a convict. Teachers speak of instances when some parents asked their wards to not mingle with these children. But Shruthi bravely brushes away the stigma with a smile, instead preferring to worry about bettering her Mathematics grades — a subject she abhors. On the future she says, “I want to become a doctor. It gives me a chance to save lives.”
Ask Meena what she likes most about her life now, a year after she was rescued from her job in the kitchen of a nursing college hostel in Malleswaram, and pat comes the reply: “I can play, I can study and I only have to take care of my personal work. A year ago I would have never imagined that I could dance on the stage (during the Children’s Day programme at APSA) or be able to study like other children.” In less than a year, she has finished several bridge courses and is all set to give her all-important seventh standard exam.
Having quit schooling early, and with no parents to fend for her, Meena started working as domestic help very early in her life. “When I was working, all I used to think is how to finish the work for that day. Now, I know that I can have a future,” she says, adding timidly, that she wants to “work towards becoming a doctor”.
Meiraba Mangang (14)
At 14, Meiraba Mangang, who was born in a little town near Imphal, Manipur, is a source of inspiration to many. Bright and evidently hardworking, Meiraba has been training in the martial art Taekwondo. He represented India and bagged the ‘best fighter’ title at the South Asian Championship for Taekwondo held in Kathmandu, Nepal.
A member of the football team, and an ardent Cristiano Ronaldo fan, this teenager who now aspires to be a computer engineer in “the age of computers”, has come a long way from his humble beginnings in a poor family in Manipur, where despite his parents working hard to put him through school, classes were barely held owing to prolonged curfews. Today, studying in ninth standard, his sporting talent makes him a hero of sorts at Parikrma, a school for the underprivileged at Sahakarnagar. He says that after school he hopes to be able to help more underprivileged children.
Source : The Hindu