“Night out"
 
  • Every month Jamghat organizes a walk into the life of street children around JAMA MASJID and OLD DELHI AREA. 
  • The aim of the project is to generate awareness about street children living in Delhi and to help them in living a life of their choice in a healthy way.
  • The programme is undertaken during the night when most of the people finish off their days work and reccede back to their secure homes and these children are left alone on the streets to battle through the evils of night. 
  • Their night life offers them many difficulties rendered through their exposed surrounding. It is then that their true nature of survivng in such a non conducive environment is brought to life.
  • We  interact with them and increase our awareness about them and their life. The main objective is to understand the difficulty and pleasure of being a street child.

 We do not take pictures on our Night Outs. More information can be found out at our blog site

jamghat.blogspot.com

Dear All,
We Four people from AID along with Amit from Jamghat went for a night walk  on 13th June and this is a write up by Ritesh Mittal about the walk. He have covered everything in his write up and its worth reading. Please spare a few mins to read on....

 

On 13th June, Friday night I was walking towards the Golcha cinema in Daryaganj, to meet Selva and other AID volunteers. Couple of days back Selva had sent an email to all AID volunteers informing them about Jamghat's invitation for a night walk amongst street children around Jama Masjid. I had jumped at the chance of getting face to face with a world that coexisted with ours but is different in every sense. 15 minutes later, me, Darshan, Selva, Kannan and another volunteer, were at the gate of Meena Bazaar right in front of Red Fort. Amit, one of the main person behind Jamghat, was already there waiting for us. Just a few days earlier I had met Amit when he and other members of Jamghat had performed a street play on Global warming. It was a splendid play with confident and powerful performances from all the members. With a nice touch of humor the play thoroughly entertained the audience while simultaneously delivering an important message on the importance of checking Global warming by being more sensitive about how much natural resources we consume. Amit had ended the play with a short speech – "Aap sab log samajhdar hai aur jante hai ki kya sahi hai. Jaroorat hai ki hum jagruk ho aur mil ke duniya ko bachane ki kosish kare"

 

Amit guided all of us through the main gate. He started the walk with a brief introduction of their organization. Jamghat had started when a group of children came together to perform a play about street life in front of Prince Charles. The performers stayed together after the play and formed an organization. Jamghat works for food, shelter, education and livelihood of street children living on the streets of Delhi. In this area, they had started by playing with the children during daytime with the idea of keeping them occupied and away from streets, abuse and drugs. They had followed that up by starting a day care shelter where street children could spend their time, play games or sleep peacefully. They were also provided with bathroom and toilet facilities.  Most of the people in the area including the children are addicted to intoxication, explained Amit, so they make them deposit their drugs at the entrance of the day-care shelter, which they can collect later. This makes sure that atleast for the duration they spend there, they are away from drugs. In addition to this they had picked up a few street kids from the area, and moved them to Laddo Sarai. Apart from shelter and food, they also worked to provide them formal and vocational education, with the aim of rehabilitating them to a normal life. Funding for all of this came only from the plays that they do regularly.

 

The night walk started in front of Jama Masjid. The surrounding area of the mosque serves as the night shelter for thousands of laborers, women and street children. As we walked through the steps leading to the mosque, their difficult existence was right in front of us. Struggling to find enough space to spend their night under the open sky where some policewala won't wake them up with his lathi. All their belongings fit into a small bundle, that's secured under their heads. Most of the men seamed intoxicated and ready to break into a fight. To start with I felt a little nervous to be in these surroundings. With our clean, untorn clothes we were clearly outsiders. Although I am hesitant to admit it, being in a predominantly Muslim area did little to relieve my anxiety. Selva and others looked more comfortable, I gather since they have been working with similar communities. Amit on the other hand not only looked comfortable, but he was well acquainted with  most of the people, especially the children who kept coming upto him and enquiring him when he would come to play with them at the day-care. Even the adults received him well and in general seemed appreciative of the work that they were doing.

 

We circled around the mosque walking into a bazaar that seemed to specialize in non vegetarian food. All through the walk, Amit kept talking about the problems that those people faced. Food, he said was not really a problem there, as many local dhabas handed over left-overs or many patrons distributed free food. Shelter was definitely a huge issue, as none of them had a place, even a temporary bivouac. So they gathered in that area as the night falls, to spend their night. Street children just spend their days wandering in the streets. Amit directed our attention to the piece of cloth most children were holding to their face. It was a way of getting intoxicated. The children use chemicals mostly glue used on rubber tyres to get high. They put the chemical on a piece of cloth that they keep sniffing all day.  With cycle market nearby, the glue tubes served as a cheap means of remaining high all day. As Amit bumped into the kids, they tried to hide the cloth, but it was clear that despite his insisting, it was not something they were ready to give up so easily. Even the adults used the glue for intoxication, while some could afford more fancy drugs or alcohol. As we walked back, suddenly a fight broke up. Effectively it was a short dark man beating up a young boy who was crying loudly. Other people were gathered around the spectacle, but no one tried to intervene. I was surprised then to see Amit going in and trying to stop the man. Pretty soon he was able to convince the man to stop fighting with a gentle pat on his back. Behind the simplicity, there clearly was a confidence and mental strength that enabled him to influence the people and bring about some change.

 

As we moved towards the cycle market, Amit showed us a muddy ground that was sleeping place for a lot of people. There were also a few shelters available, that charged a small amount for providing a cot and blanket. But they were clearly not enough for the thousands of people, especially during rainfall and winters when sleeping without a roof becomes a nightmare.  During winters people start queuing up for these night shelters as early as 5 pm. Amit also talked about the power game and crimes that go on. The police and local shop community bully the homeless people. The local goondas indulge in criminal activities and exploit and abuse young boys and girls. Especially the females have a tough time and tend to stick together for safety.

 

The walk went on from cycle market to a brief stop at Paranthawala gali for dinner, to Fawara Chowk where there is a government shelter. Selva under the decoy of a homeless person (he was pretty convincing in the role) went to check the night shelter. A little further, we could see people sleeping on cots lying in the corner of the road. These were available for around 25 Rs for the night and were usually used by the laborers who otherwise earned decently but could not afford a fixed place. With no slums in the nearby area, the only option was to travel huge distances daily from the suburbs.  

 

Next we moved onto a park behind the famous Hanuman temple. The park according to Amit was again a favorite night haunt for people living on street but on this night we didn't see anyone there. Our guess that the area was made out of bounds for the people by some hawaldar. But moving into the Hanuman temple, we could again see the same miserable conditions. People sprawled over the floor, some on a thin sheet, some even without that. On Tuesdays, enough food is distributed in the temple by patrons, which these people line up for and store for the rest of the week. Through the temple, we reached the ring road, where we were surprised to see people sleeping on the dividers of the busy highway. Even at 12 in the night, there was a constant rush of trucks and other traffic, and we couldn't help but wonder if they could actually manage to get some sleep in all that constant noise. Amit told us about the time that they had decided to sleep on the street themselves to know how it feels. They had failed miserably to get any sleep at all but perhaps over time these people get used to the noise. A few people in their sleep had their legs stretched out a little over the street, and it seemed a wonder that with all the rash traffic, they weren't getting run over.

 

Crossing the Ring road, our final stop was the Nigambodh Ghat on the banks of Yamuna. Nigambodh Ghat is where dead are brought for cremation. Yamuna was nothing more than a black nalla but that's a sight I am quite used to by now. Obviously the mosquitoes there didn't let us stay for long, but this place was again a favorite of people looking for a nights sleep. The street walk ended there, after which Selva and others caught an auto, while I moved back to Meena Bazaar with Amit to fetch our bikes. To say the least, it was a unique experience for me. Since my dad's shop is in old delhi, I am quite familiar with the area and have often walked there in the bustling activity of the day. But walking there at that odd hours, when the shops have closed down, I could see a different face of the trading hub of entire northern India. For all of us, night comes as a relaxing end to the activities of the day, but for most people here, night comes with an entirely new set of challenges. I could not imagine their plight when in a few weeks, we would be thrilled by the onset of monsoons, these people would be struggling to find a roof. It gets worst in the rains, Amit said, when they get soaked and the grounds get filled with muddy pools. Even without rains, each night was a desperate struggle to survive, with teenagers picking up on kids, grown ups beating teenagers and bullies and police exploiting the weak. No wonder that most people take to drugs and alcohol to cope up with their frustrations and struggles. But drugs put them into a still deeper pit.

 

Throughout the walk, what we saw and all the facts we heard from Amit, always instigated debate between us. Why do these people leave their villages and towns and come to big cities to lead such miserable life. Can their life be any worse back in their native place. Had they known about the struggles here would they have reconsidered their decision to migrate. Is it hunger that drives them towards places like Delhi or is it the dreams of a comfortable existence. Should government be doing more to provide shelters for them. Or can volunteers and NGOs make a meaningful contribution to create even slightest improvement in their living conditions. Should we be working at the root of the problem which lies in small towns and villages, instead of curing the cancer which has already taken a mature shape. Does the problem exists because nothing or too little is being done about it or there is no immediate solution to the problem. Is there a need for all NGOs and government to work together instead of propagating their own agenda and interests. It was clear that too many questions were raised in our minds. It also seemed as a hopeless situation. Even working full time Jamghat has been able to bring about only a small change. For every kid they help, there are thousands others who are roaming the streets. But a start needs to be made somewhere and I could only admire the dedication with which Amit and his team were working, and the enthusiasm to bring about a change in all the AID volunteers. I am being reminded of an article I read a few days back in TOI – Daffodil Story. A lady transforms a hill slope into a garden of daffodils all by herself. Outside her house she put a board saying answer to three most frequent questions – "How many – 50, 000 bulbs", "How long it took – 10 years", "How I did it – one bulb at a time". So we need to make a start too, however small the steps may seem, and perhaps we will have our garden one day.