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Soni Khatoon: 15-year-old Soni lives with her family in the EJC Durgapur Dock Junction area of Kolkata. This area is primarily like a garage for trucks. Her family comprises of her father, mother, and her elder brother. Her parents admitted their elder son in an English medium school but they denied Soni access to quality education. She was sent to a Hindi medium school against her wish. The family was facing an economic crisis and therefore, they could only afford to send their son to a good school. Later, Soni dropped out of school due to various reasons poverty being one of them. Growing up in an urban slum of Kolkata, electricity and clean and safe drinking water was always an issue. This was also one of the reasons why Soni had to drop out of school.

Bal Raksha Bharat identified Soni as a drop out. They motivated her to continue her studies. With constant encouragement, Bal Raksha Bharat was able to enrol Soni back into formal schooling. She is currently studying in 9th class. With Bal Raksha Bharat’s Mobile Learning Initiative, Soni has improved tremendously in her studies and has exhibited immense growth in terms of personality. Today Soni is an outspoken and confident girl. She has now taken the responsibility of making other children in her community aware about child rights. Soni dreams of training girls in her vicinity in Karate. Knowing Karate will help them become more confident and they will not have to depend on others for their own safety. In future, she dreams of becoming a politician so that she can make her voice reach the masses and work for their betterment. Street Child Cricket World Cup is a platform that will give Soni a chance to raise her voice for the cause she believes in.

Ayushman: 14-year-old Ayushman lives in a slum tugged in the outskirts of Kolkata. His family comprises his father, mother, and three siblings. He is the youngest among all the siblings. Ayushman’s father moved to Kolkata in 1979 and worked at a tea producing company for around 25 years until the company shut down in 1995. Currently, he is working as the President of the EJC Durgapur Basti Committee. Ayushman’s life have been replete with struggles and obstacles. Bal Raksha Bharat identified him as a child in need and provided the required intervention that changed things for good. Earlier Ayushman was a shy boy but because of our intervention, he is now a more confident and vocal boy. He attends school regularly and has displayed a great zeal for sports. His cricket frenzy won him many accolades and he wishes to pursue a career in it. He has shown exceptional potential in every opportunity he got.

Ayushman has become more eloquent in expressing his views about the things that are happening around him. Despite the odds, he aspires to be a sportsman. His outstanding performance in sports is the reason why Bal Raksha Bharat chose Ayushman for being a part of Team India (North) for participating in the Street Child Cricket World Cup that will be held in England in May 2019.

Lusi Sharma: 13-year-old Lusi belongs to an extremely poverty-stricken family of Kolkata. She lives with her father, mother and five siblings. Her father is a carpenter and mother is a housewife. Currently, Lusi and all her siblings go to school. But because of the financial constraints their family is facing, Lusi might have to drop out of school. Lusi and her sisters do all the household chores and also go for fetching for water from the Municpal Corporation tank as their slum has no tap water supply. They reside in a heavily populated slum which has unhygienic environment and surroundings. Adolescent girls in Lusi’s locality are often at a high risk of catching infection because there is just one common toilet which everyone uses. There is a lack of privacy and safety as both men and women use the same toilet.

Lusi understands the importance of maintaining hygiene and cleanliness. She actively spreads awareness about the importance of hygiene and sanitation in her community. When Bal Raksha Bharat identified Lusi, she was a docile and unassertive girl who did not have a voice of her own. We encouraged her to attend various workshops and participate in trainings on Disaster Risk Reduction, Resilience Building, and Child Protection. These engagements have helped her gain confidence and raise her voice so that she and other children in her community have access to their rights. Lusi wants to take the lead in empowering more Child Rights Champions and be the voice for equal rights and opportunities for all children. Today, Lusi is all set to live her dreams and touch the sky as she is a part of Team India North participating in Street Child Cricket World Cup 2019.

Md. Waris: Md. Waris is a 12-year-old cheerful boy residing in the slums of Broad Street, Kolkata. His family comprises his father, mother, and three sisters. His family has been trying to battle poverty and make ends meet for a long time. His father is a rickshaw driver and mother is working as a domestic help in a house. To supplement the meagre family income, Waris had to drop out of school and start working. He is works in a cap manufacturing factory. After spending seven years working in this factory he is as efficient in his work like any other seasoned adult worker. Bal Raksha Bharat formed a Community Child Health and Hygiene Club in Waris’s street area as a part of the Stop Diarrhoea Initiative. Waris became a member of the club and since then Bal Raksha Bharat has been engaging with him and his community to drive awareness and bring behavioural change.

Under the Stop Diarrhoea Initiative, Bal Raksha Bharat has been working relentlessly to make the surroundings open defecation free through the distribution of ODF toolkit. Theatre workshops on issues of safe drinking water and awareness generation sessions on girl safety have been organised. Waris has been an active member in all these engagements. These engagements helped Waris to develop an interest in theatre. Theatre has helped him in comprehending water-related problems in his area. Lack of public hygiene, the problem of sewage, and lack of clean drinking water cause diseases such as diarrhoea and dengue. Bal Raksha Bharat’s intervention has made Waris more aware about the issues people face in his community. “When I am older, I will leave this job and get a better paying job. Later I will start my own business and save more and take care of my parents and the community around me,” says a resolute Waris. Waris is hopeful that his life will change for better in the future and his economic situation will improve. He is confident that he will be able to do something on his own for himself and his family. Street Child Cricket World Cup will give him the right start and the platform he needs.

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