India: Salesians open New Child Assistance Centre at Bangalore Railway Station

2014-07-25 Vatican Radio

A new child assistance centre was inaugurated in Bangalore Railway Station under the direction of Bangalore Oniyavara Seva Coota (BOSCO) on 9 July by Mr. Anil Kumar Agarwal, Divisional Railway Manager, Southern Western Railways. The Salesian Agency has reported that ‘It was a long time wish for BOSCO that has been actualized by obtaining from the Railways a rent free space with adequate facilities for the rescued children on the railway platforms.’ BOSCO is a voluntary organization of the Salesians of Bangalore province working primarily for the rescue and rehabilitation of street, run away and working children in the city of Bangalore, in South India.

The event was held in the presence of Umesh Aradya Chairperson State Commission for Protection of Child Rights, Fr George Payyamthadathil , Director of BOSCO and several other important officers of the Indian Railways and officials and personalities involved in the protection of minors.

``BOSCO has been doing wonderful works for the past three decades. The type and nature of work they do is overwhelming and heart touching. Preventing street children from going into wrong hands is the incredible work that BOSCO has initiated,`` said Mr Agarwal while inaugurating the child assistance centre.

``It is the passion, love and commitment for protecting the lives and rights of the children that motivates BOSCO to do this gritty job``, said Fr. George P.S, Executive Director of BOSCO recollecting the child-centric, community empowering programme that the NGO has been doing over the past 33 years.  

The Child Rescue booth which will start functioning from platform number 4 of Bangalore City railway station aims to rescue the scores of children who arrive there daily, and to protect child rights in general. It is estimated that about 50 to 60 new run away children arrive daily in the city of Bangalore, mostly at the railway station and Bus station.

BOSCO has been rescuing and rehabilitating railway children since 1980. Apart from the rehabilitation of thousands of old children for over 33 years, BOSCO`s presence in the station and bus stands has led to the rescue and rehabilitation of more than two lakh children and youths. In the last five years BOSCO has intervened in the life of more than 20000 children from the railway station alone, and has provided them with services like counselling, family reintegration and other age appropriate rehabilitation.

Data provided by BOSCO indicates that from June 2013 to May 2014 the number of rescued children by this organization from the Bangalore city railway station was 3987, out of which 3585 were boys and 402 were girls.

BOSCO has placed 12 full time staff members and several volunteers at the City railway station round the clock on a shift basis, to rescue and rehabilitate the children as soon they land in the city. The rescue booth has place for providing food, clothing, first aid and medicines to the rescued children, as well as bathing facilities and recreational programs.  Tracking of rescued children`s families, and counselling the children also take place there.

Since 1998 BOSCO had been operating such an assistance centre on platform number 2 having taken it on rent from the railways. It goes to the credit of BOSCO that with several years of advocacy with the Railway Ministry and the Karnataka state Department of Women and Child Development, the railways have now come forward to provide a child assistance centre on the platform No. 4 free of cost.

(From archive of Vatican Radio)