Daring to Dream: Santosh
Street and working children are very low in the social hierarchy and have no access to education, basic health care, adequate nutrition, leisure time or the safety and security of their homes, families and communities.
Santosh reached Delhi, the capital of India, about which he had read while studying in a government school in his village. Contrary to his expectations, city life was very difficult and intimidating. Pushed to survive on his own, he found a job in a dhaba (a roadside eating joint) where he served food to the customers and cleaned dishes, making about Rs 20-30 ($0.50) per day. He was constantly scolded by the employees and received an irregular salary that brought him to hand-to-mouth existence. Four months later, he left the job and decided to look for a better life elsewhere.
Santosh reached the Old Delhi Railway station and started to live on a platform along with other children. The only work he knew and found was serving food in a dhaba. In this struggle to make a living for himself and support his existence, he lost touch with his family. He did not have enough to eat, let alone send his family money. All he had was a space on the platform to sleep, a municipal corporation tap to bathe and a community toilet. He could have given up hope had it not been for other children around him who were living the same life as him. Looking at them, he did not feel alone.
One day, a boy working on the station told Santosh about the Butterflies programme and the services it provides for the street and working children. It caught his interest and he went to a shelter for street and working children run and managed by Butterflies. This was a new world for him; he saw many children like him accessing useful services provided by Butterflies. He decided to stay at the shelter and while he was there, grew interested in the alternate education program.
Santosh had always wanted to study but was forced to leave school due to his circumstances. His capabilities were apparent from his participation in the education program and he was admitted to the fourth grade in a formal school located at Lal Quila. He also became an active participant in theatre, dance, sports, and cultural activities programs run by Butterflies. In addition, he enrolled in the computer education program where he not only picked up the basics but also developed a passion for design and visual arts.
Money had always been a significant concern for Santosh. He soon realized he could save money for his future in the Children’s Development Khazana, a life skills programme run by street and working children for children. He became a member and started saving regularly, with a dream that one day he will be able to take an advance from CDK and start a business enterprise. While using the Khazana, he volunteered to be a CDK child volunteer manager. The general body of children nominated him as the volunteer manager to look after CDK in the Fatehpuri district for a period of six months. Soon after, he was trained by the CDK team in Khazana concepts and visited Chennai, where he met other children from other areas where Butterflies anchors CDK. He spoke to children from South Asian countries and other parts of India, including Afghanistan, Kathmandu, Pokhara, Sri Lanka, Chennai, Leh, Andaman and Nicobar, Muzaffarpur and Kolkata. Inspired by many of these children who had access to advances from their CDK to start a business enterprise, Santosh is now sure of what he wants in the future – a computer shop for typing and designing works.