Kanu turned 11 on 16th December 2021, and celebrated it for the first time with his friends at the YRC NBD Day-Care. He's doing well these days, taking care of himself and his friends. Very different from just three months ago, when he arrived unbathed, undernourished, and in tattered clothes. Here's what happened...
Kanu had been a regular member of YRC Ujaan since about 2018; a happy kid from the slum across the rail tracks. Soon after the first lockdown in March 2020, when YRC mentors canvassed their neighbourhood to make sure kids were safe, they saw that Kanu was doing badly. His mother had recently walked out of home, and his addict father was unable to provide anything to the child. The 9 year old boy was cooking for himself and his father; typically one packet of quick-noodles for the day.
Since both his parents were alive and reachable, the YRC leaders spent a lot of time to ensure Kanu was taken care of within his home. They negotiated with the parents separately for months. They also explored a shelter home, for which Kanu did not qualify. In the mean time, he kept falling deeper into risk. He raomed the streets doing favours for strangers in exchange for food or small change. He was accused of stealing once, and severly beaten by neighbours. All this time, the YRC did whatever they could to keep him safe and fed.
It took nearly a year of follow-up before it was clear that Kanu had no place to go other than the Day-care. He wasn't the only kid who needed it, and his story wasn't the worst. The Nabadisha Day-Care looks after 10 children (Dec 2021), providing the kids a nutritious meal (cooked by one of the mentors), and a safe space during the daylight weekday hours. They all spend the night in their respective homes
Kanu's Day-Care mates wrote a birtday card for him, in which they wrote down all his dreams and hopes they heard him talk about, and wished they all come true. YRCs celebrate the birthdays for every member because it's not a part of their culture at home. Its a different matter that this practice also helps maintain the DOB database.