Justification for our realities "It’s time for fun now," Pariyar told his friend Rajen Subba

as he took out the packet of dendrite. "You know, this helps us to get rid of our hunger," justified 14-year-old Rajen Subba, who now works as a rag picker having fled his home in the Jhapa district in southeast Nepal due to a lack of education and grinding poverty. Rajen Subba cannot afford regular food or clothing to keep warm, and has been living on the streets for the past six years. He tries to forget his hardship by inhaling the fumes from the carpet glue. Many of these youngsters are street children with no shelter, no healthy food and no sufficient protection. Another street child Khemraj Puri explains “Life was very difficult because there weren't many generous people to depend on. Most of the time we used to collect plastic garbage in order to sell it. But the money we would get for a whole day's work was not enough for one breakfast.” With this plastic bag they stick in their noses and mouths, they have merely found something to play with in order to pass the time and forget the realities of street life. They are not so different from rich children playing with any toy - the only disparity being that these children depend on the rags littered on the streets for their playthings. Drug addiction and solvent abuse is a relatively new phenomenon among street children in Nepal. The low price (20-30 rupees), the relative ease as to which it can be obtained, lack of education and the after effects of the civil war have significantly contributed to the dramatic increase in solvent abuse. The most common form of glue used by children is Dendrite. The adhesive glue contains toluene, a sweet-smelling and intoxicating hydrocarbon, which is neurotoxic. The solvent dissolves the membrane of the brain cells and causes hallucinations as well as dampening hunger pangs, and wards off cold. “I forget everything. I won’t feel cold and hungry and can sleep easily,” says Shyam Tamang, 12, another street boy. Many Children as young as five have been known to sniff this form of glue. A shocking survey conducted by Child Workers in Nepal (CWIN) found that around 95 percent of the 1,200 street children living in the capital sniff glue. Krishna Thapa, Director of Voice of Children, a non-governmental organisation said, "Street children suffer various psychological problems in society before they end up on the streets. They think sniffing glue empowers them to face any vulnerable situation on the street." Nepal is one the poorest countries in Asia, and is experiencing an uncertain political future. The decade long Civil War has taken a toll of around 13,000 lives. The conflict has hampered government efforts to deliver basic services such as health and education. While the civil war seems to have ended, it has significantly restricted Nepal’s development. This has led to a breakdown of family and community networks. The majority of street children come from

Education is paramount to human development. Despite the fact that substantial progress has been made in this direction. Children have also left home to make room for siblings. According to the local CBO Rural Education Development Centre (REDC) children do not go to school as many families cannot afford to send children to school due to cost of books.” Many community based organisations (CBO) have shown that education for street children can pull them out of poverty. lonely and illiterate. training or recruiting teachers. Sita. In the 1990s. Even today the focus of education is on building as many schools as possible. Khemraj Pur from the Nawa Asha Griha foundation said “I was lucky enough to join a school for street children. but also a very good education. the ruling monarchy believed it unwise to educate the masses. the Nawa Asha Griha (NAG). lethargy of illiteracy. The government of Nepal has only been active in the field of Education for the past 50 years. and tradition. to find shelter. a lack of leadership and inadequate physical infrastructure No child dreams of being a drug addict. homeless.” Gopal Gurung another street child says “When I entered the gate of the school I felt happy for the first time in my life. the unstable governments and tenuous leadership have not yet yielded clear benefits for the masses. escape domestic violence and poorly run orphanages. A survey conducted by the World Health Organisation (WHO) illustrates that children leave their homes due to dire poverty. The education system is plagued by a lack of financial support. nonetheless. Khemraj Puri explains “My siblings worked in the carpet factory for very little money that wasn't enough for food and housing. However the WHO report suggests the underlying reason is a lack of education.” However the country is still trapped in the vicious cycle of poverty. "If I had an education when I was a young girl in Nepal. rather than making schools accessible to the poor. a lack of trained human resource. It was a great change in my life. now working to educate young Nepalese street girls said." . “There are a variety reasons of why children take to the streets. My success belongs to the future. I wanted to study and become a good human being. much still remains to be done. I was very jealous as I also wanted to study. doctor or teacher.orphanages and poor families who cannot afford to send them to school. Before that. I would never have suffered the life I have today” “Education truly is power. Nepal recognises this and is committed to making education universal. There I not only got food. Children like Gopal Gurung clearly want to go to school “I saw kids going to school. a former street child. clothes and shelter. In desperation I left my parents and started a life on the streets. Education can make that dream a reality. I was seven years old and I had not known what education was. stationary and uniforms. lawyer. the country clearly moved towards democratisation. Like any other child they dream of being an astronaut.

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