Jyoti is one of the many street children being provided education and rehabilitation support by CHETNA – an NGO partner of CAF India through the ‘Give As You Earn’ program. Every year, CHETNA works with thousands of street children and empowers them through education. Here is the inspiring story of Jyoti in her own words -I was a drug addict. One day I met with Manjula ma’am who is from CHETNA. She came to me and asked me about my life. But I didn’t answer any of her questions because I was afraid of being arrested as I was into begging and theft. Then she asked my friends about me and they told her everything. I live under a flyover so Manjula ma’am came to my mother and convinced her to send me to the NGO CHETNA’s open basic education classes. When I went to the NGO, I saw it was a centre where children like me, who are rag pickers or drug addicts, came for rehabilitation, completing their studies and fulfilling their dreams. When I went there, I realized for the first time that my dream of becoming a dancer could come true. Then one day some people from Badhte Kadam which is a federation of street connected children came there and told us about Badhte Kadam. I was happy to know this. I registered myself for that federation also. After becoming a member of Badhte Kadam, my life has started changing gradually.
When I became the leader of that organization, I took admission in 3rd class through open education and abandoned my earlier life of drug addiction and station. Then they sent me to Dehradun for a leadership training. This is how my life changed. I’ve done my 3rd class and have been promoted to 5th class. Then I became the Rashtriya Sachiv of Badhte Kadam which is an organization of children who work on streets. This is how I abandoned my life of station and drugs addiction and became the leader of 10,000 children whose grievances I present to the government. I am now in 8th standard.
I am also a proud reporter of Balaknama which is a newspaper published by Badthe Kadam. This unique newspaper has been initiated in 2003, initially on quarterly basis in Hindi only. Later in 2011, it became once in two month, and now it is monthly. It has a circulation of more than 10000, and all reporters are street children only. It took us more than 15 years to let people hear our voice. The newspaper has now become talk of the town. We feel happy when people recognize us as team Balaknama or Badthe Kadam.