Rehabilitation centre a 'ray of hope' for destitutes

Despite rapid economic growth and development, begging remains one of the dark issues of India and Mangaluru is no exception. Be it a bus stand, railway station or places of worship, you can spot them everywhere.

Though the authorities concerned are trying to curb the menace, it is not an easy task. The Destitute Rehabilitation Centre at Pacchhanadi, on the outskirts of Mangaluru, is one such move of the government. Established in 1984, in Pacchhanadi village near Vamanjoor, the Centre runs under the chairmanship of  DC A B Ibrahim. The main aim of the institute is to help the inmates restore their mental strength and self esteem so that they do not resort to begging again after thier term here, says Centre Superintendent Sharada.

Presently, as many as 139 beggars are sheltered here including 127 males and 12 female inmates of which most of them are aged. They are provided with an inmate house, three pairs of uniform along with facilities of recreation like television and games.

“They resort to begging for various reasons. Some are abandoned by their sons and daughters while some others have no other option. There are a few who have made begging as their profession too,” said Sharada and added that series of activities and skill development programmes are organised at the Centre in a bid to help the beggars overcome their problems.

How are the beggars ‘caught?’. According to Sharada, the team goes on rounds inspecting various places in Mangaluru and ‘arrests’ any beggar they come across on road. (They also respond to complaints from public who give information about beggars). Once they are ‘arrested,’ they will have to stay in the Centre for a minimum of one year and a maximum of three years.

In case if the family members come in search of their kin, they are released on the condition that they will not be allowed to beg again.

When contacted, Raju, one of the inmates, from a village in Udupi, said he has been in the Centre for the last eight months and he hopes to return to his home soon.
Chamundi, another inmate from Ananthpura in Shimoga, said she had started begging after being separated from the family and robbed during a visit to Dharmasthala. She is eager to go back home. When asked about their daily routine, she says: “We talk, sometimes play carom and involve in candle making or help in the kitchen”.

NGOs, students of Social Work visit the Centre for projects and counselling the inmates and entertain them with programmes. Health check up camps from doctors of KMC are also organised. Inmates are also taken to Wenlock and Yenepoya hospitals in case of serious health issues, the superintendent said.

Although the spirit of the place seems to be healthy, the male inmates house needs better conditions, according to a few inmates. Quite interestingly, there is no follow up strategy to check whether the beggars who go out of the walls of the Centre are able to fend for themselves.

Although the Superintendent confidently tells “If not in a year, within three years, they will be equipped to be integrative in the society,” there is no proof for the same.

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