i want to go to school, but who will look after my sibling

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asiya and fatima, the two year old twins sleep reaching out to each other for comfort... while rabiya takes a much needed break.. like any mom would.. only rabiya is four, just two years older than the siblings she looks after with great care and maturity..

rabiya is not an exception.. she is almost the rule in urban India's slums!

on my way to project why I often drive past what we sometimes refer to as 'potty nager'. It is a rickety camp known as sudhar camp and is home to migrants from as far as Karnataka, or Tamil Nadu.. most of the women work as part time household help, and the men as security guards; the place is crwaling with toddlers who can be often seen easing themsleves on the road as the only bathrooms are a set of public conveniences where a rupee needs to be paid! As many of our children from the creche have moved to the primary section I thought it would be a good idea to get some of the kids from this camp.

Last Seema went to survey the place. the story she had to tell was chilling: in the day sudhar camp is almost like a neverland, as most of its inhabitants are children.. with a few elders hanging around quite unconcerned.. many of the children came to meet her, ready to listen to waht they had to say. Many were quite excited about going to 'school' but it did not take long for them to tell Seema that they could not as they had to look after their siblings. seema told me that it was then that she realised that something was not quite right: every child - and they were between 3 and 5 - was carrying a younger child in his arms.. and what was difficult to believe and heart rendering was that they did it with a sense of responsibility that could match that of any adult..

Seema came back crestfallen and perplexed as to what could be done in to answer the tiny voices who were all saying: I want to go to school but who would take care of my sibling...

i am still trying to answer that question...