Plight of children in India makes headlines
- Date: 01/08/2017
- In: India
Railway Children recently arranged for The Observer’s Home Affairs Editor Mark Townsend to visit projects in India, which are on the frontline in the fight to find and protect the thousands of children who arrive every year at India’s busiest and most dangerous train stations.
Mark found his visit to Sealdah Station in Kolkata an eye-opening experience, giving him the opportunity to witness first-hand the harsh reality of life for these vulnerable children, who are often as young as four years old.
He had approached us in March this year after watching the Hollywood film Lion and being moved by the true story of little Saroo Brierly who, at age five, went missing at a train station and was lost to his family before he was finally reunited with his biological mother twenty-five years later.
Teams in the UK and India organised a packed itinerary for Mark, ensuring he was able to see for himself the urgency in charities like Railway Children being able to reach these children as soon as they arrive at these train stations and intervene before an abuser can.
He saw first-hand the problems these children face when they arrive alone on a rail platform in India, and how easily and quickly they could vanish without a trace. Railway Children's street workers have an extremely narrow window of time to find a child, who will be scared and dazed by the pandemonium of India’s chaotic and busiest stations, before the traffickers do.
Mark’s powerful article, which appeared in the Observer this weekend, is now helping Railway Children to reach new audiences and raise even greater awareness of the issues being tackled.
Railway Children's plan to transform India's stations into 'Child Friendly Spaces' will keep children safe and protect them from the abusers and traffickers, who target railway stations looking for easy prey. The Child Help Desks give them somewhere to go for protection, food, shelter and safety.
A network of these child friendly stations has been developed and Railway Children will continue to expand this programme so that even more children at risk will be protected. And with the support of individuals like Mark who are helping raise awareness and widen the reach of the work, combined with the invaluable support of donors, Railway Children stands a much better chance of improving the understanding of the true plight of India’s street children and ensuring they receive the support they so urgently need.
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