NGOs come together to save street children

New Delhi, Dec 17 (IANS) Twenty-year-old Saddam Hussain became a drug addict at the tender age of seven.

Disowned by his family, Hussain took to crime in order to earn a quick buck to satisfy his craving. At 15 years, he was sent to a juvenile home for theft and had lost all hope until an NGO came to his rescue, and gave him a new lease of life.

"My life was ruined because of drugs. I started off with smoking ganja and later consumed tablets and injections. My craving for a stronger drug grew with my age," Hussain told IANS.

Hussain and many other like him were part of a seminar held here Monday to bring together street children as well the NGOs working for them to spread awareness on the various issues challenging the lives of street children, to share experiences and above all to motivate them.

"They (NGO) provided me with counselling, legal support and even got me a job," added Hussain who is a staff member at the NGO - Society for the Promotion of Youth and Masses - the NGO that helped him get back on his feet.

The seminar was held in collaboration with NGOs and organisations like Save the Children Fund, WHO, Prayas, Salaam Baalak Trust and many others.

According to P.N. Mishra, executive council member of Salaam Baalak Trust, there are over 50,000 street children in Delhi who live alone and around four lakh who live on the roads with their families.

"The government (Delhi) just wants to send these kids back home to their respective states not bothered about the fact that some of them have alcoholic, abusive parents while others are extremely poor. They will return again," he told IANS.

As per Mishra, their teams are stationed at the various railway stations and everyday "droves" of kids land in Delhi. Some are trafficked here while others come on their own after running away from home.

However, Nasruddin Saifi, research assistant at ministry of women and child development said that the government was taking "enough steps to take care of street children" and that "no one is forcefully sent back home".