THOUSANDS of children across the country have made railway platforms their homes, and they survive by begging, rag-picking or doing menial jobs. Many of these railway children end up in stations after fleeing their homes because of poverty, violence or other forms of abuse.

But living on the platforms doesn’t mean that they are safe. The railway children are exposed to the risk of physical and sexual abuse by adults or forced into begging against their wishes. Girls are particularly vulnerable as they become the target of traffickers.

Railway Children India

Delhi-based nonprofit Railway Children India is working in nine major railway stations across six states to identify, rescue and rehabilitate the children living on the railway platforms, through family reunification, education, health and other development opportunities.

Runaway or lost 

More often than not, children escape from their homes or are forced to leave for various reasons, including violence, sexual abuse, poverty or neglect. Many end up on the streets of cities across the country. While many intend to return to their families, most of them do not and get caught up in the cycle of poverty and violence of various kinds.

Take the case of little Vijay who got lost aged seven and ended up working at a hotel in return for food. He withstood being abused everyday till he couldn’t bear it any more and ran away. Hoping to find his way back home, he followed the train tracks to Ghaziabad railway station. He could have also landed up in the hands of dangerous abusers and lost his way forever, but Railway Children India and their network of outreach volunteers saved Vijay. After seven years of leaving his home, they tracked his village and reunited Vijay with his family.

Railway Children India - Runaway or lost

According to Railway Children of India, every five minutes, children like Vijay take railway routes and arrive alone in India’s railway stations and stay on the platforms opening themselves to various risks. Almost half of all such children either get trafficked, face sexual abuse, die or disappear forever.

Railway Children India – A safety net and shelter

You can help Railway Children India in reuniting more and more Vijays with their families and put back their lives on track. They have 24-hour outreach teams that work with the Railway Protection Force to recognise children who are at risk at train stations and rehabilitate them.

The nonprofit saves these children from abuse and helps in providing them with safe shelter, nutritious food, counselling and healthcare. The children can access educational services at shelters and indulge in recreational activities. Many of them are reunited with their families in consultation with the Child Welfare Committee. In case the children cannot return to their families, the organisation secures long term care homes for them.

Railway Children India - A safetynet and shelter

Every child that is reunited with their family or in a long-term care home is given follow up support for at least a year.

To help Railway Children India reunite lost children with their families and give them a better life, you can donate here.

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(This article was updated in January 2022)

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