Meet Chennai’s new sensation, B Hepsiba. This 14-year-old girl has won three medals including gold in sprint, relay and hurdles at the World Street Child Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
“Only after I won I realised we too can achieve. I was too happy. Now I want to become a sports coach and help kids like me,” said Hepsiba.
Four others from Chennai also represented India. Ashok, a run-away child who is a volunteer now, rescuing such children at the Central Station won a bronze in shot put. Sneha, a school dropout, too won a bronze in relay; Silambarasan missed honours in long jump and relay due to injury.
“I want to rescue run away kids like me and give them a good opportunity through Karunalaya,” said Ashok.
E Usha, a college student spoke at the congress on the problems street children face in India. “We need an identity to get good education. As street children we need security. We don’t get all these three,” she said.
S Silambarasan added, “After 10 pm often police have taken away many of us just for being outside.”
At the slum they live, these youngsters are celebrities now. Posters with their pictures dot the area. But they lead a hard life.
Without a proper address getting a passport wasn’t easy. They’ve no privacy. They use an open space as a bathroom, with a small partition, enough to hide them when they squat.
The NGO, Karunalaya that helped them now plans to hone their skills further. Dr N Paul Sunder Singh, its Secretary, assures “We will now have the opportunity to get professional training. Once that happens they can come up in a big way.”