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Can you recall the last time a kid knocked at your car window at a traffic signal; or that silver-smeared ‘child-Gandhi’ raising his hand for alms; or the forlorn child tugging at your sari pallu wistfully looking at your handbag? These scenes are passé. Yes, the Smart City is almost free of this reprehensible practice- child begging. We often turn our backs to the urchins, saying, “Oh, how sad! But what can we do? It is the government’s prerogative to rescue and rehabilitate them.” But these three young men neither could calm their screaming conscious nor could they make excuses for themselves. They see to it that tiny alms-seeking hands hold books and pencils, and those street-trotting bare feet walk to the school. Their dedication is perfectly reflected in the happy faces of the well-dressed children, prancing around in the haven- Generation Yuvaa shelters, specially designed and run for them.

Motive behind mission
“It was during my final year of engineering that I witnessed some disturbing incidents which made me wonder why people turned so selfish, lacking compassion for the fellow beings. Initially, my plan to take up social service drew laughs from everyone. But I stuck to my guns. In quest of the right target, I repeatedly asked myself - “Who is in dire need?" and “Whom can I help?”. The answer emerged as Gen Next and Generation Yuvaa came into being,” says Founder and President Mr.B.Naresh Kumar, Mr.K.Rakesh Reddy, Co-Founder and Secretary, left a lucrative job with L&T, after he came to know of Naresh’s initiative. Now he is a compassionate Big Brother (Anna) to dozens of boys and girls who are rescued from pain and poverty.

Mr.P.Raja Sekhar, Co-Founder and Secretary, a JNTU product and owner of a software firm, is the third of the trinity. He offers the much-needed healing touch to the children who bear marks of physical and mental abuse.

The beginning
“To begin with, we started visiting children’s homes to play, talk and educate, and assure them of our support. We went to every single organisation registered in the city. To our dismay, we found that these homes were unable to retain the inmates who were lured by more lucrative outside activities. Then surveying streets and slums, we met child beggars, child labourers and traffickers. In the Kancharpalem slum itself, we found 80% of children had dropped out of school to work or beg. It also dawned on us that a day’s speech or a motivation session was not enough to send them back to school and started giving night tuition. However, the outcome was not very satisfactory. Our next strategy was to befriend the children who were earning anything between Rs.200 to Rs.500 per day. We find that they would fritter it away on hotels, movies and drugs.

“We understood the magnitude of the problem & intensified our drive. We distributed 13 lakh pamphlets. We felt the need to establish Generation Yuvaa Children Homes and Village as total rehabilitation of the children can be achieved only by keeping them under 24x7 vigil,” says the trio.

The journey
Established in 2007, the NGO till now has handled 2000 cases and positively affected the lives of 250 children. Right now, it provides shelter to 186 children in four homes run in MVP Colony, Gajuwaka, Birla Junction (main counseling center) and Muralinagar. Nearly 6,000 donors from across the globe and 200 plus volunteers, help them out in this humongous task.

The prime objective
“We opened our first centre in Naresh’s house at Birla Junction in 2012 with just two boys. Much to our chagrin, one of them, a street dancer, was resisting counseling. We threw in some dance activities to win him over. Success of these cases inspired us to rescue more children,” they say with justified pride.

At present, they have 100 boys and 86 girls. Eight children with OCD and two mentally challenged are rehabilitated and now lead a normal life.

Sequence of actions
• On receiving information, a rescue team approaches the parents. • The erring parents are given three warnings. The child is rescued and produced before the Child Welfare Committee (CWC). After obtaining a certificate from CWC, the child is brought to the counseling center. • The child’s interest is identified and he/she is introduced to institutional discipline and emotional bonding. Every child is made to take care of a plant or an animal. • The child then is admitted to a private school. • Gen Yuvaa helps parents too who are allowed to visit their child once in 40 days. They are motivated to adapt a good lifestyle. Reformed parents are employed in shelters. Shocking but true
“We discovered that most of the children were drug addicts or had been inhaling whiteners sold to them by the elder beggars. The pungent smell of the whitener gives a kick, kills hunger and eventually, affects the central nervous system. The addict meets a pre-mature death. Migrant workers too deploy their children for begging. Telugu people are known for their generosity. They inadvertently encourage child begging.”

Drive goes on
“We urge people not to give alms and to contact us if they spot a child begging. The success of our drive can be gauged from the fact that we could rescue 80% of them,” they say.

Help from outside
Right now 100 children are adopted by donors. Anyone can sponsor a day’s meal or provide basic amenities. But they are not allowed to distribute food or gifts. There are a few donors who sponsor or celebrate happy occasions with the children.

Success tales
• Two children have completed their 12th standard, and are preparing for EAMCET exams. Two inmates are writing their 10th board exams. 120 children are going to private schools, and nearly 60 of them are rank holders. • They have no stage fear and communicate with ease. • A woman and her two children who were mortgaged to a builder by her husband were rescued. Now the family is reunited after the husband is counselled. • The NGO could reform many parents who motivate their peer to quit begging. Some of them are now the NGO’s coordinators. Unforgettable incident
“A 19 year-old-girl dropped her child here. A day after Hudhud, she came in an inebriated state, demanding the child be returned. When we warned her of the inclement weather and requested her not to take the child, she cut her throat. We had to return the child. A day later she re-admitted the child only to reclaim it after two months. Till date, we are unable to take the child’s custody. The background check revealed that she was a drug addict and used to easy money.”

Future Plans
“We plan to set up 3 more homes. Our aim is to spread Gen Yuvaa across the state by 2020 and the country by 2025. We want to build a self-sustainable village in which each family is provided with a hut. The child can stay with its parents who can earn their living through any vocation they are good at. We now turn our focus on women who flaunt their infants to beg. We want to replicate the Vizag model all over the country.

Generation Yuvaa offers

  • Exclusive shelters: two for boys & two for girls.
  • It takes care of them till they are settled, besides supporting single mothers.
  • Birla Junction Center is run on a village model with a few huts, a nursery and a few animals.
  • A family-like ambience is created with the children addressing their care takers as Anna and Akka. There are 50 staffers to tend to the needs of the children and each shelter is headed by one elder.
  • The activities in the shelters are constantly monitored through CCTVs.
  • A centralised kitchen serves nutritious and healthy food to the inmates. No food from outside is permitted except on special occasions. The schedule is breakfast-snacks-lunch-health drink-snacks-dinner.
  • Two autorickshaws transport the children to school.
  • Inspirational sessions like Ignite Your Mind are held for the children above eight years. Experts from various fields are invited to motivate them.
  • Three retired teachers (volunteers) teach the children.
  • An academic in-charge prepares the monthly report cards. Coordinators keep a regular check on the child’s progress at school.
  • 70 doctors (volunteers) take care of their health needs.

What do we do to check this social evil?

  • Offering a 10 rupee note to a child is not an act of kindness. By doing so, we only encourage them on this path of destruction. Instead, get in touch with the NGO and give the details of the child and its whereabouts.
  • You can sponsor a child for Rs.3,200 per month or sponsor a day’s meal for Rs.6,000 for one branch.
  • Since the NGO was floated by students, participation of students is appreciated and encouraged.

Bitter Facts

  • In India nearly three lakh children are forced into begging.
  • They are inflicted with wounds and maimed to inspire pity.
  • Many don’t know that the sops they give, go for alcohol, drugs or trafficker, and not for food or education.
  • Many parents live comfortable lives by pushing their children into begging.
  • Parents reclaim children from shelters and push them back into begging.

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