By Gitanjali Das | Mumbai Mirror
A lack of education has not stopped a group of 12 women from steadily transforming the Wadala transit camp. Together, they battle against child marriage, trafficking and a high dropout rate in their community’s schools. Past victims themselves, they work closely with the NGO Aangan, which works towards strengthening India’s child protection system. Their intent is clear — they don’t want future generations to suffer the same fate they did.
The Wadala transit camp is home to a population of approximately 22,000 migrants. Some are project-affected persons. Others had lost their homes to false promises of redevelopment. With the state refusing to recognise their existence, law and order has only deteriorated in this community. Child trafficking is an open secret. From a young age, children drop out of school to work as busboys, while others sniff glue in dark alleys. The fear of sexual predators has forced families to confine their daughters. Many girls aren’t even allowed to attend school.
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The children who clean our homes, the ones who look after our children. The ones that walk the streets all day, waiting for the traffic light to turn red. The ones forced into marriage, the ones that bear offsprings not much younger than themselves. The ones who are neglected, abused and abandoned by their families. The ones with no support and no fight left. These are 40% of the children in our nation with no childhood. These are the children we see all around us.
We often see these kids and think, “I want to help them!” This moment of reflection soon turns into paralysis and helplessness- “How do I help them? Where do I start? Even if I reached out, there’s no way I could help all of them! Anyway, I don’t think I could make much of a difference.” With that, this moment of reflection passes and we carry on doing whatever it is that we were before we paused.
But there is a lot we can do…
Read the full article on YouthKiAwaaz.com. The authors, Deepika Khatri and Mahi Khakhar, are the Strategy and Advocacy Coordinator and the Executive Administration Associate at Aangan.