Five former child laborers from Bal Ashram make it to SRM Institute for higher studies
Chennai: On the eve of Children's Day, five children rehabilitated at Bal Ashram established by Nobel Peace Laureate Shri Kailash Satyarthi and Smt. Sumedha Kailash, have secured admission in the prestigious SRM Institute of Science and Technology, Chennai.
These five children — Sanjay Kumar, Imtiyaz Ali, Manish Kumar, Chirag Alam and Mannu Kumar — were once child laborers and their childhood was spent in suffering and torture. They were rescued by Shri Satyarthi's organization BBA and were rehabilitated at Bal Ashram where they continued with their studies.
Living and studying in Bal Ashram, all of them passed Class 12 examination with flying colours. Bal Ashram was the first long-term rehabilitation centre for children rescued from child labour, trafficking, abuse and exploitation established in 1998 in the Aravalli Hills of Viratnagar, Rajasthan. Since then, Bal Ashram has established itself as a center for child participation and child leadership development across the country.
Children rescued from labour and bondage, who were rehabilitated at Bal Ashram, have now become role models for other children and the community. While some have become engineers and lawyers, some have become social workers and even singers etc. Till date, 1,431 children have been rehabilitated and mainstreamed with the society.
Children of Bal Ashram who have been enrolled in various courses of SRM Institute of Science and Technology, hail from the most vulnerable and marginalized sections of the society.
These children have been selected in the courses of B.Sc (Physical Education), Bachelor of Physiotherapy, Hotel Management, Diploma in Nursing and Bachelor of Administration of SRM University. SRM Institute of Science and Technology (earlier known as SRM University) is one of the top universities in India with over 52,000 full-time students and over 3,200 faculty across campuses.
SRM Institute of Science and Technology has been awarded the highest rank in the year 2018 by NAAC (National Assessment and Accreditation Council). The institute has been ranked first with 12B status by the Ministry of Human Resource Development and University Grants Commission. The university has been ranked 35th nationally in 2020 under the category of universities by the National Institutional Ranking Framework (NIRF).
The children of Bal Ashram who have been selected by SRM, despite the multiple hurdles they faced in their lives, secured high grades in the Board examinations.
19-year-old Sanjay Kumar, who scored 86 per cent marks, has been selected for Hotel Management and Catering course. Sanjay's determination and hard work is commendable. Sanjay, who hails from Virat Nagar in Rajasthan, has two sisters. His mother and siblings were forced to work in a brick kiln due to financial crisis. Sanjay was rescued by Bachpan Bachao Andolan and was brought to Bal Ashram in 2010.
Among the others selected by SRM, is 21-year-old Imtiyaz Ali who got 67 per cent marks in Class 12 in the year 2020. He has bagged admission in Diploma in Nursing.
Due to extreme poverty, Imtiyaz had got entangled in the clutches of traffickers who brought him to Delhi where he was made to work for nearly 16 hours a day in a zari (embroidery) factory. Bachpan Bachao Andolan activists rescued him and he grew up in Bal Ashram.
18-year-old Manish Kumar has been selected for Bachelor of Physiotherapy. He had got 66 percent marks in Class 12 in 2020. Abused by his father, who was into heavy drinking, as a child following his mother's death, Manish ran away from his house home one day. Left with no option, he started begging in the train. His life however changed when he came to Bal Ashram. Today, he actively participates in cultural programs as well.
Securing 64.8 per cent marks in his Board examinations, 21-year-old Chirag Alam has been selected for BBA course. Rescued by Bachpan Bachao Andolan from a bangle making factory in Delhi, he grew up to live his dreams at Bal Ashram.
Battling abject poverty in his childhood, 18-year-old Mannu Kumar Oraon from Purnea in Bihar – who grew up at Bal Ashram after being rescued from being a child labour – is today eagerly looking forward to completing his B.Sc (Physical Education) course with flying colours.
"We couldn't be more proud of our children. I and Kailash ji had faith in these children from the very beginning ever since we got them out of child labor and brought them to the Bal Ashram. I wish all the children of Bal Ashram to progress well in life and get their desired destinations", said Co- founder of Bal Ashram, Mrs Sumedha Kailash.