I am livid. Do you remember Babli?

Here I was back in a comfort zone feeling smug like a proverbial Cheshire cat, thinking that with her brand new heart, Babli was sitting on a school bench making up for lost time when I was hit by another thunderbolt.

R and S came back from a field visit visibly upset. On the way they had passed Babli’s slum cluster and found her sitting on a cart selling chewing tobacco, cigarettes and biscuits instead of being in school, her little sister standing in the background.

The cart was supposed to be the father’s way of earning some money, but he simply left her there to pursue his gambling habit. Seems that it happens often as she sheepishly told us that her name had been struck of the roll of the school.

The mother spends long hours in the factory she works in and the father does as he pleases. Come tomorrow and we will set out on a remedial mission which will start with some plain talking with the impossible farthest threatening to put him behind bars if he abuses the child in this manner. Then a PR expedition to government school to ensure that she is taken back. Somewhere down the line the mother will get a dressing too.

These moments are when you just feel throwing your hands up but you stop midway and wonder how you can address the situation that actually is one of protecting children’s rights. We can carry on our crisis intervention, but there is a larger question that needs to be looked at: parents need to be informed about the laws in existence and about the importance of giving girls a good education.They should be made aware of the child labour laws and more..

The presence of little Arzoo in the background is a blatant proof of the fact that girls are treated differently as Ramu the brother goes to school.

There is so much to be done, one step at a time…

Note: two days after this post babli was back in school, and sister arzoo back at pwhy’s creche.

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