A Mumbai NGO, My Home India, has successfully arranged the ‘ghar wapasi’ (homecoming) of 170 lost-and-found kids who were languishing in various shelters, an official said on Friday.
The kids aged between 14-16, including nearly 100 girls, were lured from their homes with employment promises and pushed into low-paying jobs or the flesh trade, said Mithilesh Jha, national coordinator for the programme entitled ‘Sapno Se Apno Tak’.
“In the past one year, we have managed to contact the families of these minors all over India, including the north-eastern states, and four from Nepal. Later, we arranged to hand them over to their respective families and bore their travel expenses,” Jha said.
Of the 75 from the north-eastern states, a whopping 67 young girls from Assam were brought to Mumbai with promises of jobs and then forced into prostitution.
Four children from Delhi and others from Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Bihar, West Bengal, Odisha and Karnataka were engaged in exploitative child labour.
These children, given up as `lost` or dead by their families back home in remote areas, were found by the Mumbai Police after which My Home India swung into action.
Earlier, the NGO chief Sunil Deodhar said that daily many innocent children run away from their homes or are lost and come to metros like Mumbai with dreams of making it big.
“They land in wrong company and are compelled to work as child labour, indulge in petty crimes, begging, etc. We try to save the young unfortunate kids and re-unite them with their families as we firmly believe they are the future of India,” Deodhar said.
Deodhar called on Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and apprised him of the NGO’s activities.
Impressed by the effort, Deodhar said Fadnavis has assured My Home India of getting a link-up with various children’s remand homes in Maharashtra.
Buoyed by the success, Deodhar now plans to expand the NGO’s activity on a national scale to help more such lost-and-found children.
Jha said My Home India presently has a network of 40 teams across major cities in the country which secure the details of such children.
He explained that there are multiple reasons for children getting `lost` or running away from their homes.
“A few are blinded by the glamour of Bollywood, some are ill-treated at home, others escape torture by one or two step-parents… A majority of them face deep emotional problems and they reveal their home addresses only after months of counselling and cajoling,” Jha said.