Taking 10 Street Children for a Hot Meal

Posted by: on Mar 25, 2019 | No Comments

On arriving at Kamlapur  station it took a while to gain the trust of the children that lived there. First a couple of boys asked for money. I said I wasn’t there to give them money. As the crowd of street kids and curious onlookers grew I tried to find an angle to strike of a conversation. The opportunity came when I found out one of the boys came from my home district. The boys made jokes and banter but once they realised that I was there to spend time with them and get to know them, within about an hour they have become my protectors. 

Bangladesh is a funny place where as soon as people see a new face or something happening a crowd gathers if it is people have lots of time to stand around. there is absolutely no privacy. It took us a while to get rid of unwanted attention and bystanders who when  seeing me  with the boys rushed to my rescue asking the boys to move and stop harassing me. When I explained it was me who wanted to hang out with them, they looked confused and then become cross and asked me my motives. In their eyes why would anyone be interested in these worthless street kids? It seemed the boys business was their business. 

Once we managed to fend off the unwanted attention I managed to get the boys to talk a little about their stories and how they had ended up living at the station. All had run away from home or been abandoned by parents who couldn’t afford to keep them. None had a plan of how they would escape this life. All survived doing petty work for local street vendors, carrying bags for passengers and I’m sure on occasion petty crime (which they wouldn’t admit to me of course). I asked where all the girls were, as on my last trip there were many that lived on the station. They said the station had become too dangerous for girls. They were violated by both the police and other predators and so that simply found other places to stay. 

They were grateful for the wash bags and the Savlon and plasters which they used straightaway on the many cuts sores and grazes they had their arms and legs. One even started brushing his teeth right there in front of me. 

The boys were kind courteous charming. They asked after my family my children and asked if I could find on permanent work. I was struck by their friendship and camaraderie.

It was eight in our group and I said I’d like to take them out to dinner. I said I would take 10 to dinner in the hope that along the way they would pick up a few friends. By the time we got the Restaurant the  crowd had grown into about 20 but the boys were careful to ensure the number remained at 10 even though I said I was happy for all 20 to eat. Although I encouraged them to have what they want (and expecting a few of them to order the most expensive thing on the menu) they agreed amongst themselves to  order a meal of chicken curry, rice and Dahl each. I was so struck by their manners and courtesy. They organised themselves and ensured everyone ate and even organised the bill . In my head I had worked out the bill of £1.60 per meal per boy yet by the time that I got the bill I paid £1.20 per boy. It appears they negotiated the bill down on my behalf too. Then they walked me to the bus stop, made sure I got on the right bus and saw me off.

It was amazing how quickly they had accepted me as one of their family because I took the time to sit with them to talk to them listen to them, to ruffle their hair to ask their names, to laugh with them and banter with them. They are all such beautiful souls and even with no hope of ever getting off the streets they carry on with smiles and camaraderie. Such heroes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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