Rehabilitation of street children in Surkhet district easier said than done

Surkhet, January 9

Just last week, 10 street children were rescued from Surkhet district headquarters Birendranagar. Ever since their rescue, they were kept under the protection of the Women and Children Office, but after some days some of them jumped off the building they were kept in.

Stakeholders have pointed out that rehabilitation of street children has become a serious challenge. These children end up in the street for want of parental care or because of family problems such as polygamy, foreign employment, and family disputes, among others.

Most of the children, who are rescued from streets and handed over to their families are again seen in streets within a couple of days, according to stakeholders.

“Though some of the children have their guardians at home, they show reluctance to return to their homes just because of their guardians’ behaviour,” said district children welfare committee, also calling for a proper rehabilitation centre to help with the rehabilitation attempts of such children.

“Rehabilitating street children is challenging,” said child protection officer at Women and Children Office Prem Prasad Acharya, adding that the situation had further worsened because of the irresponsibility shown by parents and guardians towards their children.

“Drinking habit of senior members invites disputes in families, at times this compels the young minds to leave their families and opt for the life of a tramp,” said Acharya, adding, “As a number of such children fall into bad habits and there is not a single rehabilitation centre, it has been a major obstacle in our rehabilitation drive. As these children require counselling and proper care, lack of a rehabilitation centre has been felt strongly.”

Further, Acharya informed that for the time being they had kept the street children who were in bad company in a correction home running in Birendranagar. “As we have failed to rehabilitate street children, there is high risk of such children being used for crimes and other anti-social activities,” he said, urging the local bodies to address the problems of street children. “We rescue children once or twice a year but that can’t solve the problem,” he said.

As per data with the district child welfare committee, around 2,000 children in Surkhet are without guardians. There is, however, no data to show how many of those children are living in streets. As the district is seen as a possible provincial capital, rights activists have stressed the need of a rehabilitation centre.

“Since managing street children has become a major challenge, the government has to take initiatives to set up a rehabilitation centre,” said Pabitra Shahi, coordinator of an organisation working in the field of child protection.