I was working to fix a telephone pole when bhaisaab ji saw me. I was five years old when I was rescued by the Bachpan Bachao Andolan,” recalls 18 year-old Amar Lal. Rescued kids call Kailash Satyarthi “bhaisaab ji” with affection.
Amar is now studying Law in Noida. “I want to become a lawyer and contribute to the cause,” the teenager says.
The boy says that nobody in his family has gone to school before him. “We belong to the Banjara community. We never get a chance to attend school as we keep travelling from one place to another,” says Amar, who hails from Rajasthan.
“If it wasn’t for the bhaisaab ji, I would have been working somewhere instead of studying Law. I feel blessed that I was rescued and given a chance to study,” he says.There are others like him. Manan Ansari was rescued in 2005 from mines in Jharkhand. He is now pursuing BSc from Acharya Narendra Dev College in Delhi’s Govindpuri.
General Secretary of Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA) R S Chaurasia says, “We started working for child labour to help these kids get education so that they can earn their livelihood with dignity.”
Kinsu Kumar still remembers the rescue operation of December 2003. “I was eight years old when bhaisaab ji rescued me. I used to wash cars in Mirzapur in Uttar Pradesh,” says Kinsu,19.
He is now doing BTech from Rajasthan. “I want to become an IAS officer. The BBA gave us a new lease of life,” he says.
“If we weren’t rescued by bhaisaab ji, we would have never been able to break free from the shackles of servitude,” the teenager says.
BBA has made a difference. “Even those who didn’t continue studies after class 12, are doing something meaningful with their lives. Some of them have joined NGOs working for the cause and others are engaged in fighting different social evils like child marriage,” says Kinsu.
Rakesh Senger, Program Director of Victims’ Assistance, Campaigns and Policy, BBA, says that the organisation aims to make the kids independent. “Our main purpose is to help them stand up on their feet. They are given counselling and they are taught subjects of their interest,” says Senger.
The BBA has two homes for the rescued kids – Bal Ashram situated in Jaipur, Rajasthan and Mukti Ashram in Burari, Delhi. The children here are taught to read, write and do arithmetics.
Suman, rescued in 2001, is among them. “I was a domestic help at a household whose owner was an engineer,” says the teenager.
“I was eight-year-old and used to help my mother in household chores,” says the boy, 21. He is a graduate and works at the BBA office in south Delhi’s Kalkaji area.
Altogether, the BBA has rescued 80,000 children across the country. Among 20 states and four Union Territories, Maharashtra has the highest number of children being traced at 18,706. Delhi comes second at 11,870 followed by Madhya Pradesh at 9,537 during 2008 to 2010, according to BBA. During the corresponding period, over 13,000 children went missing in Delhi.