By Vishnu Varma
Children belonging to homeless migrant families aspire to study and go to school, but are forced to sell flowers at traffic intersections in Delhi.
NEW DELHI, January 13: Delhi’s traffic intersections are increasingly becoming hubs where small children can be seen selling flower bouquets along with their family members. These children belong to poor, homeless families who live on the pavements without proper shelter.
Most of these families have migrated to the city from small towns and villages in Rajasthan. After reaching the city, they select small pockets like Hauz Khas and Lado Sarai where they pitch tents and earn a living by selling flowers.
Roses for a Living
According to a study done by ‘Save the Children’ in the year 2011, Delhi is home to more than 50,000 street children. The study also reveals that half of these children are illiterate and do menial jobs to survive on the streets.
Manju is a 25 year old woman who sits by the Ansal Plaza Flyover in South Delhi during the day arranging and packaging the flowers. She has two daughters, both of whom are toddlers and a son who is barely eight and who sells flowers at traffic intersectionS.
“My brother goes everyday to the Ghazipur wholesale flower market in Outer Delhi and buys a lot of flowers,” says Manju. “It is very difficult for us as we have to give Rs. 250 to Rs. 300 to policemen who otherwise drive us away from these streets.
In Lado Sarai, another part of South Delhi, Kanchan, 10, along with her younger sister sells rose bouquets at the busy intersection leading to Mehrauli. She sells two or three rose bouquets at the end of the day and finds it extremely hard to brave Delhi’s hard winters.
She says that she would love to study and go to school but her family’s poverty prevents her from such freedoms. Her mother, Geeta, says that although they get help from NGOs from time to time, they are only eligible for government assistance in the city.
Bachpan Bachao Andolan is a child rights NGO which works closely with these homeless people and demands “a child friendly society where they can receive free and quality education”. Kailash Satyarthi, founder and chairperson of the NGO stressed the need for more inclusive policies on the part of the government to help rehabilitate high risk children.
Poor and ostracized by society, children from these migrant families continue to sell flowers on Delhi’s traffic intersections to earn meager amounts of money. With yellow and red roses in their hands, they hope to spread a cheer in other people’s lives while their own lives remain devoid of color.