Uncertain future awaits street kids

Kathmandu, September 13

Although more than a year has passed since the ‘No Child in the Street’ campaign was launched, scores of children are still seen living on the streets.

The Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare, Central Child Welfare Board and National Centre for Children at Risk have been jointly working to build

proper rehabilitation centres for street children.

According to NCCR, 652 street children, including 143 girls, were rescued and sent to  rehabilitation centres in the fiscal  2016-17. Most of these street children fled their houses to live on the streets.

Bijaya (name changed), who lives in the Pashupatinath area, said his mother eloped with another man after his father went abroad for employment, leaving him to fend for himself.

“There was no one to take care of me at home so I came to Kathmandu to make a living,” he said.

Unlike Bijaya, Sri Krishna (name changed), said he lost his mother when he was 10 and his father married another woman. “After my father married another woman, he didn’t care about me. So I left home.” Sri Krishna begs for a living and smells dendrite glue to ward off hunger and ‘get away from worries and tensions’.

“Street children are especially found in Bhugol Park, Thamel, Pashupatinath area, Swoyambhu, Koteshwor, Kalanki, New Bus Park and Jawalakhel,” said Santosh Chandra Adhikari, spokesperson for NCCR. “We have rescued children from these areas. First, we attempt to rehabilitate them back into their families. Majority of these children are addicted to drugs and beg on the streets to make a living.”

However, most of them can’t adjust to the disciplined environment in a rehabilitation centre that they think limits their freedom. “We have caught a single child nearly six times.”

Minister for Women Children and Social Welfare Asha Koirala said, “Love, care and attention of family members towards children can prevent them from fleeing home. But early attention and psychological support of parents can prevent them from leaving home,” said Koirala, a day before National Children’s Day.