Last week, a group of 16 children from Delhi’s biggest red-light – GB Road – set out for a summer camp to the hills of Chakrata. For most of them who had not set foot outside the confines of brothels of GB Road, it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It was their unique way to mark Father’s Day in their own way while the whole world celebrated by gifting greeting cards and merchandise to their fathers. To add to it, since most of these children have been disowned by their respective fathers or don’t know who their father is, the Father’s Day was dedicated to their mothers.
Aged 10 to 21 years, the group is associated with a Delhi-based NGO called Kat-katha, which works with children on GB Road. Volunteers from Kat-katha were also part of the three-day camp, which was organised in partnership with EdTerra Edventures, one of India’s largest education travel companies. During the camp, children trekked, took zipline rides, and most importantly, played freely in an open environment, something their circumstances hasn’t afforded them ever before.
“For the first time ever, Kat-Katha’s children are in Chakrata for a Summer Camp. Their mothers supported them like Fathers all their lives and brought them up with so much courage and compassion. They played both the roles of father and mother. Working, earning and taking care at the same time. It’s their struggle which got them here and now they are exploring the world and working hard to get their mothers out of the profession,” says Shantanu Prakash, Founder, EduComp Solutions, an organisation that has financially supported the camp through their Open Door project.
The project seeks to provide special learning experiences to children who are not able to access the best facilities that more affluent kids get. “As a part of this initiative, we wanted to have this very special group of kids from Kat-Katha to experience the outdoor programs through this Summer Camp where they could think, ideate, energize themselves and come back with enhanced skill set to help them deal with real life situations.” adds Prakash.
Upon their return, the kids are beaming about their unique experience. Says 17-year-old Suhail, “I had different experiences throughout the summer camp. I felt responsible, courageous and vulnerable. The camp taught me some important life lessons. It was a space where we had both teachers and friends living like a family. We prayed and ate together. I learned how important it is to have faith in your dreams and work hard to achieve it.”
Adds 21-year-old Rishi, the oldest participant in the group, “It is for the first time where I felt I am with my family on a vacation. I got a safe space to share a lot of things which were pulling back me in life. As I expressed my emotions with everyone, I now feel free to move on in life and fulfil my dreams. The activities in the camp also helped me overcome my fears.”