Navajeevana’, means ‘New Life’. Navajeevana, a home for street children at Chamarajpet, Bangalore, is an attempt from the part of a religious congregation to give the rays of a new life to hundreds of underprivileged children.
Last week I had a chance to spend some time with these children at Navajeevana, which is a home for around 150 girls of the age group 1-15. Many of them are orphans and a few are abandoned by their parents. The centre has got a number of social workers who go to the different corners of the city in search of the children who are roaming around in bus stations and railway stations begging. Such girls are taken to the centre where they are provided with food, shelter, security and the facilities to attend school. Besides, policemen from the nearby police station also bring children to this centre.
Bangalore, one among the big cities in India, has also become a home to thousands of street children. Urbanization has facilitated the flow of unskilled as well as skilled workers to the city in search of jobs to sustain them. The skilled workers never find it difficult to find a job and enjoy a contented living. On the other hand, the unskilled ones like, construction workers, quarry workers, household workers etc find it very difficult to make the both ends meet. Since reproduction has got its normal course among them, the number of children keeps arising and the parents are already deprived of all the means to take care of their needs. As a result, they are abandoned or thrown to the streets for begging.
There is yet another group of children who are run-aways from interior villages. These children are often trapped by different gangs, who later send them to various parts of the city to beg. In the evening, they all come back and give the day’s collection to the leaders. Such children are also rescued by Navajeevana at times.
The children can spend their lives at Navajeevana till they manage to get a job after the completion of their education and the management makes sure that the girl is now in a position to support herself with the job she has. The centre has also arranged the marriage of many of these girls. The Directress of the centre shared an interesting story of a wedding they recently had at Navajeevana. The girl had been an inmate of the centre for more than eight years and she was working outside. A young and rich boy from Mangalore happened to meet this girl from the street. Later, he came to the centre and met the Directress to express his willingness to marry the girl. In order to know more in detail about him, she, along with the girl, went to the boy’s house and found everything satisfactory. Both the parties waved the green flag. Since the girl grew up in a Christian environment, before the wedding, the boy’s family conducted a ceremony, which lasted for three days, to convert the girl into Hinduism. It gave me immense joy to know that the centre gave more importance to her life than the faith she practiced. These kind of stories must be brought out to the public where there is no hesitation to kill one another to protect and sustain faith.
You will also see a photograph of some of the small children of Navajeevana with innocent smile on their lips. For most of them, the only concern is three times food a day. Will you and I be able to give a better future to these children with peace, hope, love and security?