From ragpickers to students: Diyas light up their path

“The children from these slums never went to school. This session we got 16 of them admitted in a nearby government school, said Harpreet Soin, a member of the society.

Written by Divya Goyal | Ludhiana | Published:October 23, 2016 4:45 am
The children have already made around 500 diyas and sell them for Rs 5 per piece. The money collected will be used to buy their sweaters, shoes and socks for winter.  (Express Photo) The children have already made around 500 diyas and sell them for Rs 5 per piece. The money collected will be used to buy their sweaters, shoes and socks for winter. (Express Photo)

A small effort to bring a change in the lives of slum children is bearing fruit this Diwali in Ludhiana.

Thanks to Ludhiana Cares Ladies Society, 16 children, aged between five to 15 years, from slums close to Model Town have been weaned away from waste collection and into schools.

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“The children from these slums never went to school. This session we got 16 of them admitted in a nearby government school, said Harpreet Soin, a member of the society. This, however, did not prevent children from their collecting waste and scraps, which they did once they returned home. “We can’t break the cycle in one go. So first we managed to break the full-time activity to part-time. The next was to introduce them to an activity that engaged them more than picking rags.”

And this came in the form of diyas. The Society hired a person to teach these children how to decorate diyas and would later sell them.

Each day an assignment of 30-40 diyas is given to the children and the ones ready are sold. “They have already made almost 500 such diyas and we have advance order for 1,600. We are selling them for Rs 5 per piece. The money collected will be used to buy their sweaters, shoes and socks in winter. Also, we have planned cleaning of slums and Laxmi Puja here on the day of Diwali,” said Soin.

“Ever since we started this activity, these children promised that they won’t pick rags anymore. Yes, some of them still do it. Maybe they are forced by circumstance or by their parents. We need to eliminate this. We were able to convince only sixteen children to join school, almost fifty others still do not. Next we plan to teach them make paper bags and tie up with shopkeepers to sell them,” said Soin.

“At least now they realise there are more ways than one to earn a living,” said Soin.