Byline By- Balkrishna
“Two young children are alone. Their parents are in hospital and they have no food,” a voice said over the phone and immediately disconnected the call.
The call was received by Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA), a NGO headed by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Kailash Satyarthi. Two youngsters were in trouble and must be reached, but how? The “informer” just wouldn’t react to rehashed calls.
The only piece of information available was that the call had originated from Chattisgarh. BBA settled on a decision to the call police in Raipur, which in-turn activated its cyber cell, and inside a couple of hours, the number was followed to Kawardah, a town in Kabirdham locale, roughly 120 km from the state capital.
Police group soon reached at the source’s home who ended up being a neighbour, too frightened to even think about moving toward the two kids, matured six and eight, for fear of contracting Covid-19. The youngsters had been without food but at the same time were scared. Could their folks return? When might they return? The dim night held not many answers.
“My father was our main financial support. He was a teacher and a tutor. He insisted that I focus on taking the IAS exams that I was studying for. How do I fulfil his dream now? The day passes but the nights are long. I have problems sleeping. We are all depressed. Nobody from the neighbourhood was willing to lend a shoulder to carry my father’s body.”
She is 18 and therefore, technically, not a minor, but the burden of the family has landed squarely on her young shoulders. An NGO has helped. Vijay Vidrohi, a part of Pratap Sewa Samiti got the entire family tested for Covid-19 and is helping the family with ration stocks and also took care of the last rites.
The struggle for millions of children and their families is not limited to the financials alone. Some can access only one meal a day; others are taking up petty jobs at tea stalls and shops and more still are taking to begging. The most startling, and disturbing, of all — some are selling their bodies.
The second wave has hit children harder. The trauma doesn’t stop with the loss of either or both parents. The emotional wound needs to be treated. Many children have not seen their parents for the last time because Covid protocols don’t allow for bodies to be brought home, and so, there is no closure.