My hometown is a small place in Rajasthan, where I have seen many child marriages, kids working as domestic laborers, etc. They were doing jobs which kids of the same age are not supposed to do. I always felt sorry for them and their circumstances and did what was in my power to give them momentary happiness – sitting down to play with them.
During initial college days, I was a frequent visitor to the local chai wala and my ears were only able to pick the voice calling CHOTU now and then.
Chotu came with a smile, greeted each one, served delicious tea and went back. One day I called him to ask his name, he said, I am CHOTU, everyone calls me by this name, I don’t have any other name. I asked what you want to become, he said so sweetly “kuch ni bhaiya” and left.
That whole day I was only thinking about him and why he said that? Why was he not in school? Why had he stopped dreaming? I have always been active in knowing and debating about Government policies, there execution methodology & the impact they imprint and always criticizing them. I questioned myself, what have I done personally to bring a change?
Reply was, nothing.. I only made noises but didn’t take an action.
I went sleepless for 10-15 days when I finally internalized all my conflicts and decided that I wanted to do something. I wanted to help them dream and build a future. In the next few hours of discussion with friends, KALAM, our first step was ready with the Facebook page and our motto ‘har-hath-kalam’.
We started by enrolling the kids in school. But soon realized that this was not enough, so we started teaching them, celebrating the important days, playing, singing and dancing with them. We never looked back, our team expanded as more and more enthusiastic minds joined us.
We faced many harsh realities like seeing a 10-year-old kid high on drugs, getting fake scars. We researched on the matter extensively, and took up charge to spread awareness among people about anti-begging and how this menace is killing the young generation of this country. We empowered the kids with education, their parents with employment, disabled and old age people with government schemes and respective shelter homes. The smiles we brought in their lives pushed me to go keep moving forward.
I will continue to work in this area and many more. I want these kids to be a part of India’s changing economy. We need to make sure that they are not left behind. Our country will progress on the right track only when no kid is left on the streets to beg, rather they are in class rooms to study.