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Here,misdirected childhood returns to order

Rachit (name changed) is a 14-year-old boy whose father abandoned him and his physically-challenged mother.

Written by Jasleen Sahota | Chandigarh |
February 9, 2009 11:59:18 pm

Rachit (name changed) is a 14-year-old boy whose father abandoned him and his physically-challenged mother. He got addicted to tobacco but also exhibited homosexual behaviour. His mother sent him to Snehalya,a vocational training centre for street children at Maloya. After a brief period,he started showing positive changes and now,he not only excels in studies but has also endeared himself among his friends as a master mimic.

There are hundreds like Rachit whose lives are undergoing transformation at Snehalya — an institution that helps children working on streets,shops,markets,and factories join the mainstream.

Sonu (name changed) studies in Class VI at the local Government School,Maloya. His father died of excessive tobacco intake and his lone surviving family member is his mother. He was into smoking and had even tried hands at sexual abuse of children. Courtesy Snehalya,he is now a reformed child.

“These people helped me quit smoking and I thank them for putting me on the right track,” says Sonu.

Brother Pascal of Don Bosco Navjeevan Society explains the reasons behind these life-changing transformations. “Giving them love,being patient and letting them know that we care,works like magic. The students are made group leaders and assistant group leaders on rotation,which teaches them responsibility and the value of discipline. They are also given lessons in morality and spirituality.”

The centre,at present,houses around 110 boys and provides them with all basic necessities like bedding,clothes and books among other things. While 56 of them go to the local Government School,Maloya,the rest are taught in the centre itself under the Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan. Once they learn the basics,they are enrolled in a school.

The centre has various facilities like a conference room,a well-equipped sports room,and a computer room. Vocational training for jobs as an electrician,plumber,computer trainer and carpenter is also provided. The children also take part in co-curricular activities like dance performances and games. A hostel for girls is also on the cards.

Superintendent of the centre Khushpinder Sharma says,”We have seen the life of these children change. They have become more responsible and cooperative. We hope to secure their future.”

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