Street Smart by James
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The Future

18th May 2000

I had visited the recluse of the street children's situated in Mahavir apartments on the ground floor on the outskirts of Bombay - the central suburb where our current Ms. World grew up in - Mulund.

The boys had not yet returned from school surprised? That during the times of vacation how come school? Well, as most of these boys hailed from all the diversities that India offers they needed to cope up with the new language Marathi (this for the kids who were below 8) whilst the elder ones now opting to learn in Hindi have been off basic education for such a long while (5 to 6 years) that it takes a while for them to adjust to anything resembling the world "routine". These boys who have spent their childhood sweeping rail boogies, working tea stalls and begging had made the decision to take and educate when they moved to the shelter at Mulund, but the years lost could not be gained, unless they volunteered to go during these summer breaks and catch up.

They came back at four this evening and we exchanged our hugs, handshakes, screams and "good evenings". When I managed to clear off the last boy?..clinging to my legs, we settled down to our serious exchanges about their mental state of mind, the shelter, the school and lastly their gains and their needs (mind you I say so "needs" and not "wants").

I'll share with you their gains as this is all on their own efforts . I already told you'll about their determination on spending their holidays in the same four walls. Their fruits have grown in the form of the progress/report cards that each one was so eager to show me each on thrusting their hands towards me. From the '12' boys, 10 managed to give all valuations and tests, one boy 'Binod" aged 7 years spent time in the hospital had a blood transfusion and returned in time for the final evaluation; because of his sheer determination he got a seat in the class IInd but lost away, (Anil) the call of the streets is always lurking in their minds, the pressure of the exams too propelled him to run away from the shelter but his earlier efforts earned him a seat in class IV. Now the 10 that struggled the whole length - here's the ratios two first rankers :

class I and class III, (Kailash (6) & Santosh (12yrs)
'3' second rankers class I (ketan and sunil) and
class III (Bapi and Rajesh of the III class both stood 2nd)
'1' third ranker class III
'4' fifth ranks class I, III, IV,VI all this coming after their co-ordination at the shelter, right from their personal chores to preparing their food and then their school.

Is'nt this street smart or what?

I would be praising them too much but there are elements that have helped these 'street smart' guys to what they've achieved and that's; the support of Shibu a 20 yr street boy grown with sadak chaap . He never understood the meaning or reason for education untill his struggle in life, he is an experienced welder, a very recent driver and he want's an education very much; but thro' these small guys. He pushes them, when they tire. Then also, I have a friend 'Praful' who when is not making choclates or cakes (a confectionary professional) has been the private tutor for these boys.

And who said there's no hope!
(Sadak Chaap)

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