Rakhee was one of our brightest little sparks. She had first come to us almost 4 years back when she was about 2 year old. Her story is one of total hopelessness and despair. When you hear it you may feel that is a one in a kind but sadly it is the story of many little girls in this land. It is also one that shows that in spite of our best efforts, there are times when we stand helpless.
Rakhee's father is a construction labourer, one of the millions who flock into India's capital in search of work. We first met her when her father got work on a site close to our project. They had pitched a small shack on the road and though we passed that way every morning we never saw her.
One day one of our teachers walked into the office quite agitated and told us about a pregnant woman who seemed to have a broken arm and yet carried heavy loads all the time. The woman was Asha; she was not more than 16. She was 8 months pregnant and her arm had been broken by her drunk husband and never attended to. It had just set on its own.
We did take her to the hospital but were told that nothing could be done.We looked after her and fed her emaciated body as best we could. Rakhee joiner our creche. A few weeks later Preeti was born. Asha told us her story: orphaned at a young age she was brought up in an uncle and aunt who married her off to the first man they found. He drank, gambled and beat her with obsessive regularity. He made her work too but there was never enough money to eat.
For some time we helped the family as best we could and even gave Asha a job but nothing truly changed. Preeti grew up in our creche and we got attached to her. But things remained the same in her home and no matter what we tried nothing changed.
One day the little girl stopped coming. We heard that they had shifted to another site. A few months later Asha came back carrying her two kids and told us hat her husband was in jail as he had been caught selling hooch. Once again we helped her and the little girls came back to project why. Rakhee was ready for class I and we were hoping to admit her to regular school. The husband was released and we even gave him some work hoping that it would bring some respite to the family. We were aghast when we heard that Asha was pregnant again but then did we not live in a land where everyone wanted a son. Blissfully the next child was a boy.
But the story did not end there. Once again the family disappeared. Another job on another site. Rakhee was never put in school. She joined the ranks of the thousands of kids that sit on road side while their parents work on the innumerable construction sites that have sprung in our city to make it world class!
Some time back we got news of the family via a surreptitious phone call made by Asha to one of the teachers. She was pregnant again and had been brutally beaten by the police and even kicked in her stomach, as she was caught selling hooch. Her husband made her do that forcibly while he gambled and drank.
We tried to call her to find out where she was but the wily husband had changed his phone number.
Little Rakhee and her siblings are somewhere in this city in state despair and misery and we have no way to reach out to them.
At timea like these I feel totally utterly powerless.