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A new kids’ home in red light zone,away from the bitter truth

For 42 little ones,a crèche in Budhwar Peth is home. A stone’s throw from the red light area in Budhwar Peth...

Written by Renitha Raveendran | Pune |
February 3, 2009 11:31:13 pm

For 42 little ones,a crèche in Budhwar Peth is home. A stone’s throw from the red light area in Budhwar Peth,their mothers,commercial sex workers,want them to grow up with memories of a better environment,rather than allow the realities of their residence or workplace to affect their future.

The crèche started two years ago by NGO Kayakalpa in 1995 became a 24-hour childcare centre,with the number of children getting almost doubled.

Sanghvi Thapa from Nepal is happy for her two girls studying in Delhi now. They were once inhabitants of the childcare centre. Their brother Deepak (3) is a full-time member of the centre. “I don’t want him to know what my job is. He shouldn’t get into all these,” says Thapa.

“I lied to my daughters that I am running a hotel here. I want to see them coming up in life. I was trapped here and don’t want them to have a hopeless life like mine,” she said.

After they turn five,the children are sent to hostels from where they attend schools. “So far,more than 70 children have been sent to various hostels and they are studying in good schools,” says Seema Waghmode,director,Kayakalpa.

When it comes to her daughter Rupa (3),Neelam wants her to have a better life. “I miss my daughter. I love her and that’s the reason I don’t want her to be with me. She shouldn’t be associated with my ‘job’ in any way. She should never get into this ‘profession’.”

Neelam,who hails from Bagalkot district of Karnataka,says she was forced into prostitution because of an old custom that was practised in her village of getting young girls “married” to the local deity after which she is supposed to ‘serve’ the community. “I am happy my daughter is at the creche. I want to send her to a good school and stay in a hostel,not with me,” she adds.

The centre has eight caretakers and two of them are teachers. The children have a fixed time for breakfast,games,lunch,classes,snacks and watching TV. According to Seema,most children get to meet their mothers once a week or a month. Sometimes they meet after many months. “More and more sex workers are leaving their children here for their better future,” she adds.

Unaware of the bitter reality,the little ones in their yellow and purple striped uniform are always ready to rattle off rhymes and alphabets their ‘bai’ (teacher) has taught them. “They don’t ask for their mothers. They are used to this place now and are happy here,” says Basheera Sheikh,a caretaker.

Like other children,they have their own dreams. “I want to be a pilot,” says little Munna. While three-year-old Gayatri wants to be a teacher like her ‘bai’,little Karan says one day he would be a policeman and own a motorcycle.

(Some names have been changed to protect identity)

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