90 child beggars and rag pickers studying in schools in Haldwani
In order to save the childhood of the rag pickers and the child beggars, an activist from Haldwani has been working on an initiative to connect these children with basic education. Over the past three years, Gunjan Bisht Arora, native from Haldwani, has successfully connected nearly 90 children with basic education in her city. Currently, 34 such children are still under her guidance.
Leaving her government job three years ago, Gunjan became a full-time teacher, helper and guide for these children. She is further ensuring that every child somehow gets connected with basic education so that childhood is safeguarded. Speaking of her initiative, she said, “I used to work in a government sector. I quit nearly three years ago because of some personal reasons. I remained engaged in social activities before, but after I left my job I became a full-time guide and teacher for these children.”
Gunjan started this initiative with a small blackboard and a few kids, but the number of children increased with time. Thereafter, she opened a classroom at her own house. “I started with a very small number of children, but with time the number went up. I opened a classroom at my own house. Initially, my parents were opposed to my initiative. But slowly they changed their idea of my initiative. Now, they are fully supporting my cause. They are now involved in it. Besides my parents, I have a team of three/four people working with me,” she said.
Dwelling on the problems she had faced while going on with the initiative, Gunjan said, “Teaching child who is involved in begging and rag picking is very tough. They first refuse even to listen to us. But with time, they mellow and start listening to the teachers. They understand that the teachers are trying to better their life. Their behaviour turns good. I train the children in two phases. In the first phase, the children who are engaged in begging and rag picking get a basic education. In the second phase, two children who are admitted in primary schools receive tuitions from us. This is how we have managed to connect these children with studies.”
However, she added, “It cannot be said that these 90 children who are going to schools have totally left begging, but we are trying our best to persuade them into leaving it once and for all.”
When asked about Government help if any received in the initiative, she said, “I have tried to reach out to the Government, but no relief has come so far. It would be great if the Government helps us with security. Sometimes we receive threats from the parents of these children. We receive collective threat from the people of the area and also from the community they belong to. This slows things down for us.”
Gunjan has, however, received many awards in recognition of her initiative. She received Tilu Rauteli Award in 2018. She said, “We all should realise that life meant for self furtherance is not enough. We must try to bring a difference in the society we are part of. The people who spend lavishly on birthday parties, weddings and other social functions should understand that they have a role towards the people living in the society. ”
Wednesday, 13 February 2019 | PNS | Dehradun
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