Parents away, children ‘man’ homes

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Amma nee illai endral aadharavukku yar irrukka? Kastapatta kalathilum galagalanu sirepayea (Mother, if you are not here, who else will take care of me? Even during those difficult times, you were smiling).

At her thatched house in Nellivasal village nestled in the lovely Jawadhu hills, 30 km from Vellore, Sivasakthi, all of 13, sings her favourite song to convey the longing for mother while sweeping the house clean, fetching water, washing the clothes and preparing breakfast for herself and her kid brother.

She must wake up before four or else she would not be able to get him to school in time and run to her own eight kms away.

“I get very little time for my homework and to prepare for exams. But I am happy I am able to take care of thambi Kalidoss and give him mother’s love, which I miss”, says Sivasakthi with a broad smile.

She has been running the house all by herself after her mother left for Chennai to work as a construction worker two years back. Her father is disabled and rarely visits home. “We get to see our parents once a month and during the festivals.”

The girl also works at times in the local farm to supplement the little cash that the mother sends now and then towards household expenses.

If she falls ill, she must pick herself up to walk to the hospital downhill, where she would be charged Rs 100 for two injections.

Sivasakthi’s is not the only story of kids running homes because the parents have gone away far to work. Siblings Selvakumar, 13, and Sharmila, 11, her schoolmates, too are on their own since their parents ‘migrated’ to Chennai to take up jobs for paying back loans.

“We cried when our parents first left us. We were scared sleeping alone but now we have got used to it. They call us at times during the night”, said Selva. His sister said they got their emotional support from friends and teachers, “and planting saplings in the school”.

“There are many kids managing on their own after parents left them to work at faraway places like Chennai and Bangalore. We speak to them to sort out problems, such as physical ailments or emotional issues”, said headmaster G. Chandrakumar at the local government school.

Teachers N. Annadurai and G. Latha added that some children are stressed and unable to concentrate on studies. “We spend extra time with them”.

Voice of childrens

I have seen many children loitering on the road selling nick-knacks. I wish all the children should be in school. Parents should allow the children to study and the government should take efforts to provide education to all children - A Sri Ram, 14.

All the schools should organise field visits and education tours once a month. This will inturn help us to empower ourselves to know about the real world which is explained in our text books - A. Sheelamary, 10.

The Anna centenary library in Chennai shouldn't be shifted. I enjoyed reading comic books in the library. I love the environment of the library. I appeal to the Chief Minister Jayalalithaa that the library should be allowed to continue at Kotturpuram - S. Kirthika, 11

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