Adolescence can unequivocally be called as the most exuberant period of one’s life. The carefree conscience and the ever hungry mind make this period one to be cherished for. But often this carefree outlook leads to confusion and a constant repulsion from the child towards the world and its affairs. This leads to many unwarranted actions which bring pain and sadness to the children and their families. Similar thoughts and actions roam in the minds of hundreds of children who run away from their homes and eventually make public spaces like Railway stations their hideout. But most of these children end up in the vicious circles of abuse, child labour, prostitution and misery.
After witnessing a similar incident where a runaway child, forced into beggary, was reunited with his family after 6 years was a revelation of sorts for Manoj Kumar, a graduate of Tata Institute of Social Sciences. His work in the social sector and the plight of such children coerced him to take action in this direction. He founded the Society for Children (SOCH) in 2012 with an aim of rehabilitating the future of runaway, missing, abducted and abandoned children. Working primarily at Bhubaneswar, Khurda and Brahmapur Railway Stations, the volunteers of the organization are at constant patrolling at the platforms in order spot and rescue the runaway and missing ones. After the child is rescued, he/she is brought to a temporary shelter and is provided with food, clothes, non-formal education etc. Then this rescue operation is followed by counseling sessions till the child is safely handed over to their parents. The counselor aims to know about the issues that are psychologically embedded in the child. If the organization fails to reunite the child with the family, then SOCH refers the child to another Institution for further care and protection. Moreover, the follow up is done after the reunion is completed with the family after every 3 months.
The organization conducts various other programs such as counseling for children prone to drug addiction and counseling for parents and the child in an attempt to abridge the gap between them. Other camps are also organized for school dropouts who are furthermore enrolled in a formal system of education so as to give them a chance to build their life and a career in the mainstream world. Various other steps are also taken to provide health care service to children and a safe and nurtured environment is provided for orphans who are physically and mentally challenged. The organization has also taken various steps forward in order to encourage parenting reforms and alternative care for the children in need.
Till date, SOCH has rescued more than 1100 children. The selfless act is still being done by the staff of 18 professionals but the need for more volunteers in the form of mentors for children is always felt. Anyone who intends to contribute for their cause is welcome. Because it is these children who are the true bearers for a glorious future. It is upon us to safeguard their adolescence and innocence at this stage so that they can become responsible citizens in the future.
Story By : Gauri Bhatnagar | Compiled By : Abhishek Tilatiya
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