My name is Poonam and I live in Badli resettlement colony with my mother, brothers and sisters. We have no father. My mother is running a tea shop in nearby colony. Me and my sister Suman were engaged in rag picking in the area and were selling the goods collected to a shop who gave us some money which we normally spent to buy some food and candies etc. We were chased by the factory guards and were beaten by the guards and policemen almost daily.
We had no body to look after us at home and we were lured by other rag picking boys and girls into rag picking as we saw them eating food and candies daily. We were not happy with the work as being harassed by every one on the streets. One day a man talked to us and asked me whether I want to go to school? I was happy as I saw children going to school in a neat and clean uniform and they told us that they get food also in the school. I asked the man to talk to my mother for sending me and my sister to school.
A few days later the gentleman took us to the school and we both were enrolled in class 1. My classmates and my teacher taught me to brush my teeth daily, wash hands before eating, and wear clean clothes and bath daily as we sisters were stinking when we were enrolled in the school on first day. We get food in the school and are being loved by our teacher and classmates as now we don’t stink. I am very happy to be in school and happier that I am sitting with my sister in the class.
Now the people on the streets, guards of factories and policemen don’t chase us and they rather love us seeing in school uniform. I want that all the children engaged in rag picking and being harassed by people should be enrolled in the schools. We are learning good manners also in the school and talk and behave decently at home and in the colony. The people in the neighborhood now don’t hate us and chase us away as we are now going to school.
I want to study well and become a big woman, make my mother proud of her daughters as she is working very hard to bring her children up.
Suraj Kumar – I have talked to the Head Mistress of the school Mrs. Durga Devi and requested her to promote Poonam to class 3 as she is 9 years old and it becomes embarrassing sometimes for the children to see younger children in the class. The HM argued about the education level of Poonam first but agreed to promote her to class 3 in the next academic session after I requested her in the interest of Poonam and other children in her class and when she was told that I am the Coordinator of RETF.