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Street children struggle to survive in Mumbai
Poverty in India forces children into work, beggary and abuse. They toil for their survival. In Mumbai alone, thousands of them are homeless and ought to be protected under rehabilitative schemes as they are vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.

SOME PEOPLE adore them. Some abhor them. Yes! They are the street children. Think about them who dont even get their daily bread; who dont have proper shelter? Does anyone care for them? Street children in India, many of them drug-addicts have been facing a bleak future.

An estimated 35,000 street children live in Mumbai. Everyday, they scavenge across the city for a better life, showing courage and resilience that would put most adults to shame.

The term ’street children’ refer to children for whom the street, more than their family has become their real home. It includes children who may not necessarily be homeless or without families, but who live in situations where there is no protection, supervision, or direction from responsible adults.

The reality of the street children is the naked and vicious face of poverty and exploitation. The tragedy is that those who bear it, are themselves innocent, lonely and frightened young children. Many of them who have run away from their homes because either they were beaten or sexually abused. Tragically, their homelessness leads to their further abuse through exploitative child labour and prostitution.

Most Indian street children work. Children who work, are not only subject to the strains and hazards of their labour, but are also denied the education or training that could enable them to escape the poverty trap.

Poor health is a chronic problem for them. Half of all children in India are malnourished, but for street children, the proportion is much higher. These children are not only underweight, but their growth has often been stunted.

Everyday, I come across such homeless kids begging, some near a ticket-counter, some near a food store, some at traffic signals, selling flowers or books.

Mumbai, a city that gives place to each and everyone, doesnt have place for them.

Their plight is getting worse day by day. Together, we can do something for them. A small deed can get millions of smiles. Therefore, people should wake up now. Give these sweet and innocent children, a better life to live and show them a proper path towards a bright future.

(Picture by Nita Jatar Kulkarni)

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