Sathi: Story Of An NGO That Has United 47,000 Runaway Children With Their Families
Image Source: ngos.giveindia
At some point of our life in our childhood, many of us have felt that sudden urge to leave our homes and family to take charge of our lives. Fortunately, most of us abandon this idea after that short surge of emotions. But there are also others who don’t. They run away from their homes without thinking properly about the consequences of their decision which is taken in haste.Many of these children end up living a life on railway stations or other places like that. There, they meet others and subsequently get engulfed in several improper activities.
SATHI (Society for Assistance to Children in Difficult Situation) is a non-profit organization working with children on the railway platforms. It rescues them from the vagaries of the platform life and provides shelter and care till the time the child is returned home safely.
It was started in 1992. With years of research and work in this field, SATHI claims that- 90% of children who are found on platforms are children who ran away from their homes, in a moment of impulsiveness. There would have been a fight at home, or they would have been berated or the general environment was such that it led them to take this extreme step. Once, a child has run away, the child and the family both go through the emotional trauma. In fact, the child wants to go back, but neither has the courage nor the means.
Mr. Pramod Kulkarni, an alumnus of IIM Ahmedabad and the founder of SATHI, was inspired by the work done by SNDT, Pune and he decided to look around the platforms in Raichur, and thus was born SATHI. “We rescue 50 children daily from the platforms across the country. Some of these children get lost even as their parents search for them desperately”, says Mr. Pramod. Over the years, more than 47,000 runaway children have been rescued by SATHI and reunited with their families.
“A child on the platform never grows up, he just ages. Early intervention not only saves the child from the dangers of platform life but also makes repatriation easier as the child is more willing to go back home.” The longer a child lives on the platform, the more he falls prey to addictions, sexual abuse, petty thefts and odd jobs for survival. There is no place like home for a child except for extreme cases and the organisation’s first course of action is thus always “home placement”, says Mr. Pramod.
Children are rescued from the platforms and are placed within the safe confines of SATHI’s shelters. They are counseled and those who are willing to go back home are taken to their families as soon as possible. In the case of children who have not spent too much time on the platforms, this is a fairly simple task.
Something that makes SATHI special is that they do not consider their task done once a child is returned back home. They follow-up through a set procedure, 4 follow-up calls per child per year, to ensure that the arrangements agreed upon while placing the child back at home (like study material for those who wish to study) continue to be available to him/her. Says Mr. Kulkarni, “We attempt regular follow-ups on all cases where home placement has been done and home is accessible on the phone”.
The Logical Indian community thanks and appreciates the work done by Mr. Pramod Kulkarni and his NGO Sathi.