Saturday, November 20, 2010
Home is the ultimate security or atleast I assumed that till I met Mamata. She is 9 yrs old and lives with her aunt and studies in Grade 1 in Koseli. She loves dancing and is passionate about her studies. It is not unusual for children of Koseli to disappear from school for long durations. But when Mamata didn’t come to school for a month we were worried and started digging for clues that were keeping her away from school.
Mamata’s parents live in Boudha. Her father and step mother didn’t think that it was important for her to go to school. After all she is a girl and at nine years, she is capable of doing all the house hold chores. So she was kept away from school. During that one month her father was sick, so she was also his nurse along with being the keeper of the house. Once her father was better, she expressed her desire to return to school, all she heard in return was a stern NO. As days passed Mamata missed school more and more and finally she decided to confront her father. On hearing a yet another NO, Mamata left home and came to live with her aunt who stays very close to the school. She has been very regular since then.
Yesterday, Mamata’s aunt for some reason got very angry with her and threw her out of her house. She spent the night at a friend’s place. The problem came to our notice when she came for dance practice today. We have arranged for to stay with another family whose children also study at Koseli and tomorrow we hope to make her aunt understand the gravity of the matter and let her return home.
Mamata is not at discomfort about leaving her father’s house, being thrown out of her aunt’s house and now spending the night in a stranger’s house. Mind you, all these houses are shanty one rooms with already four, five or six members living in them. While it is impossible for most of us to even imagine leaving our homes, it is not a big deal for the slum kids to stay wherever they find space and with anyone who is willing to accommodate them. It is not a sense of security for them but a place where they spend their nights. And that is what makes them extremely vulnerable.