When Vikash Chauhan (14) is bored, he doodles on the blackboard in the classroom of Suman High School in Limbayat, which has been his home since March 30. “There is something written on the blackboard but I cannot read it as I have studied only till Class 4,” says Chauhan, who looks older than his age.
A native of Arrah in Bihar, Chauhan is among 27 people sheltered in Suman High School at Neelgiri Circle in Limbayat area. He lost his parents in an accident four years ago and left home in search of work. He came to Surat to work one-and-a-half years ago to work as cook in a labour quarter near a powerloom factory. He was staying in a rented room shared by five people on Lambe Hanuman Road in Varachha.
“On March 20, all my roommates left for Arrah as the powerloom factory shut. After that I couldn’t afford the room rent on my own so I shifted to the footpath near Surat Railway station from where police brought me to this shelter,” says Chauhan.
“After the situation becomes normal, I will start working in one of the powerloom factories… Right now I have only Rs 500 left with me,” says Chauhan recalling the last meal with mutton curry he had with his room mates over a month ago.
At the temporary shelter, he starts his day at 8 am when everyone gathers on the ground floor of the school run by the Surat Municipal Corporation. “We stand in queue to get biscuits. I take the biscuit to my bedding, dip it in water and have it. They don’t give us tea. I mostly pass time by checking messages on phone,” he says.
The Samast Bihar Jharkhand Samaj Trust of Surat, supplies food twice a day to the inmates, in coordination with SMC.
“Our room is airy and has individual fans. The SMC had provided us mattresses and bedsheets. Our beds are around four feet distance from each other,” the 14-year-old adds.
In the evening, they again come to the ground and stand in the queue for a dinner of khichdi, sabzi and salad.
He has a plan though. “After working for a couple of months in Surat, I want to return to my hometown in Bihar and play with my friends, which I have missed these four years. I don’t have anyone in my family… I will earn some money and purchase a bike when I return,” says Chauhan.
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