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Yesterday, I went to have breakfast in a popular fast food joint located near Bashyam circle, Sadashivanagar, Bangalore. A small boy, neatly dressed, who was about 9-10 years was cleaning the table. At that moment I thought this kid belonged to a customer and was just playing. It took some time for me to realize that he was working there as a janitor. I did not like what I saw.

He was meticulously collecting the left over steel plates, taking at most care picking the Coffee and Tea glasses. Without any formal training on cleanliness, he was cleaning the stainless steel tables as if they belonged to him. The entire fast food joint was buzzing with people and he appeared to be the only one to run around to keep the place spic and span. The men in the kitchen were busy and the cashier (owner?) was found to be unaware that he was actually killing a child’s future.

I was concerned about this and wanted to have a chat with the boy to find out if he was really underage. He shared his name and a beautiful innocent smile with me but he didn’t utter anything beyond this. Maybe he was told not to interact with the customers.

I really wanted to do something about this since this boy was probably forced to work there. So, I secretly took some pictures in my camera. I moved away from the restaurant and reached out to some of my friends to share the contact number of any child care helpline. I finally found that there was a toll free helpline number (1098). I wasn’t very sure if someone would attend the call since I never dialed any such numbers in the past.  Under a count of three rings, a lady promptly answered the phone. She politely asked for details and I started narrating the situation and also provided her the details of the hotel and its location.

Within the next 2 hours I received at least 3 phone calls from the child care helpline. The last one was from a child care worker and he took some more details from me including the description of the boy. He was rushing to the hotel to confront the owner and rescue the boy if needed. I was extremely happy that something was happening so fast.

After an hour I received another call from him and he sounded happy. He thanked me for informing him about the boy and also clarified that the boy was a teenager. What he said afterwards was shocking. He said that his team found two more children working there and rescued them too. All of them were found to be brought from distant villages and employed by the hotel owner. Thankfully, the child care team took them to the Sadashiva nagar police station. The police had asked the owner to come there to explain. The owner was warned by the police. He also said that the children’s parents will be called, counselled and be asked to take back the children to their villages. This news brought a big relief in me.

I think what I witnessed was a speck of the dirty world where poor villagers are exploited and innocent kids are subjected to employment in big cities. There is also a possibility that the rich owners’ kids are studying in some respectable schools at the expense of such kids education and youth.

I don’t think I’ve done something great; I’m really angry by the fact that such things still exist even today. What I realized is that the least one can do is to report the matter to the authorities (1098 in this case) or even call the police (100) to inform.

At the end, I’m glad that I was able to witness a government and an NGO system which appeared to be working.

My only hope is that these rescued kids, after going back to their home; don’t think about coming back to the city and find a place to continue their education

My only hope is that the parents, due to poverty or their inability to support the child’s education, find miraculous ways to support their childs education that they deserve

My only hope is that the owner realizes his mistake and follows ethical practices.

My only hope is that whoever reads this story or witnesses a similar scene realizes that he or she doesn’t have any right to take the life of little ones for granted.

I only hope but, certainly this incident has opened my eyes.

#stopChildLabour

12 Comments

prabhakaran sundaramurthy · April 23, 2016 at 2:47 am

Hi Kannan

Excellent effort.,wish we could address the root cause…what prompted these kids to turn to work..I am ok to contribute what I can to help him with his education…

Sushma Kaul · April 23, 2016 at 6:05 am

Hi Kannan,
What you did, only conscientious and caring will take the time and act without delay! You did the right thing in reporting the matter to the authorities. But I only hope that your efforts for the right cause will help these children and set the course of their lives in the right direction!

Unknown · April 23, 2016 at 7:56 am

Speechless. Impressed that you took the trouble to do the right thing. Now, a few more know how to deal with these situations when they see one. Yes, for all you know the kids might go back to a equally bad or worse situation. But, thats not important. We need to constantly keep pushing the system and surely, every such incremental effort would eventually make a telling difference. By spreading the word, you have informed a few hundred others who inturn will inform a few hundred atleast. This chain reaction is what will bring the change. Thanks for leading the way.

Sriram V

Sonal Majeethia · April 23, 2016 at 8:44 am

A very kind, inspiring and bold effort Kannan!!

Kannan Sundararajan · April 23, 2016 at 2:31 pm

Thanks Prabhakaran, thanks for volunteering… I'll find out what happened afterwards and see if there is a way we can send these kids to the school

Aruna Diwakar · April 23, 2016 at 3:14 pm

Commendable job kannan.. Thanks for this kind gesture.. Hats off to you.. You have been practicing what you have always told. I do remember the conversation with you.. In fact I had also found one girl like this and she was rescued..after which I decided to take care of girls in my children home..thank you for the blog. Hope this could be a inspiration for many..

vkannan · April 24, 2016 at 1:38 pm

Great effort. It needs courage and conviction to do something like this. I would have let it pass and not taken the trouble. There is a lot to learn from what you have done and more importantly shared. As someone has said we need to keep pushing the system and one day things will hopefully fall in place.

Kannan Sundararajan · April 25, 2016 at 8:27 am

Thanks Sushma – it was a tiniest possible effort. Finding a permanent solution is unfortunately complicated since there is no one reason that contributes this. There is also a fear of these kids (under their parents influence) switching their jobs going to another hotel.

Kannan Sundararajan · April 25, 2016 at 8:29 am

Thanks Sriram – lets push the system and spread the word…. the actions taken by the child care association and the volunteers is commendable. I also feel that the government must slap fines and even bring the shutters down of such institutions who continue to violate norms

Kannan Sundararajan · April 25, 2016 at 8:30 am

Thank you Sonal – I was not courageous enough to confront the owner and had a fear that the boy was part of some human trafficking

Kannan Sundararajan · April 25, 2016 at 8:37 am

Thank you Aruna, I really appreciate and respect the work you are doing! It takes a lot for someone to drop everything and to run an institution dedicated for Children

Kannan Sundararajan · April 25, 2016 at 8:49 am

Thank you Kannan, I'm aware of all the big fights that you have successfully picked and followed through and I don't believe you pay no attention to such topics 🙂

whether or not a social fight that we pick is fruitful is an outcome of how similar issues were dealt in the past, how far we are willing to go, the assurances that we get from the system, experiences from others…many factors that control it… you are right, I think its important for all of us to share our experiences irrespective of the magnitude of the impact

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