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Freeing Coimbatore of child beggars

Anasuya Menon

— PHOTO: S. SIVA SARAVANAN

SEEKING ALMS: Beggars using children to earn sympathy of the public on a street in Coimbatore.

COIMBATORE: Don Bosco Anbu Illam will launch a drive against child beggary in October with assistance from the Corporation and the police.

Hence it has appealed to the public not to encourage children seeking alms by giving them money. The continuous campaign will involve preventing children from begging and warning the adults who force their children into seeking alms.

“Rehabilitation of these children is difficult as the parents force them into begging,” says Fr.U. Santhanam, Director of Don Bosco Anbu Illam. More than 95 per cent of the children seeking alms are forced to do so by their parents who do not work or adults who take care of them.

Children are also trafficked into the city from other areas just for begging. A child earns up to Rs. 200 a day through begging.

The practice of hiring children for begging is also rampant. Infants are hired for a day and the parents demand up to Rs.100. These children are often underfed, wounded and sometimes even drugged.

The only way to prevent parents from sending their children to beg is to motivate the public to stop giving them alms. When they realise that the children are no longer earning money, they will gradually stop the practice, Fr. Santhanam adds.

Instead of giving money to the child, the public can contact the police station or NGOs taking care of destitute children, says T. Sheela, Co-ordinator of Childline.

Don Bosco Anbu Illam conducts frequent rehabilitation camps too where the children who beg on the streets are taught about personal hygiene, given food and counselled. To take the message across to a larger group of people, the NGO also plans to rope in college students.

By 2010 the organisation aims at making Coimbatore free of child beggars.

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