Afflicted by a deadly disease and having lost his entire family to death and abandonment, nine-year-old Rehan (name changed), who lived in slums in Valsad, boarded a train to Ahmedabad one day, with no clue of where it would take him.
Young Rehan had it tough from the beginning. He had inherited HIV from his poor parents and had also lost his mother to it at a very young age. A few years later, his father left home and never returned, leaving him in the care of his elder sister who was married by that time.
For some time he lived with sister and her husband, who accepted him with a loving embrace. However, three months ago his sister too left her marital home never to return. Rehan’s last blood relative had also abandoned him. But his sister’s in-laws tried their best not to let him feel alone. They cared for him in spite of the dire financial situation they were in.
In late October, the boy walked out of home and sat in the Vapi-Ahmedabad Memu and reached Kalupur railway station. There, he was found by personnel of the Railway Protection Force (RPF) at about 2.30 am on October 22.
During counselling, Childline volunteers learnt he was from Vapi and asked the local police to check up on his family. They traced his relatives who could provide Rehan’s ID documents but his sister’s mother-in-law gave the police his medical records. It showed that he was HIV positive.
“Since Rehan had no family to contact for guardianship, and because the family he was staying with is very poor, we counselled them to let him stay in the Home of HIV positive children in Gandhinagar. He would be taken care of there and his medical needs would also be met,” said Imran Bhohariya, Gandhinagar. coordinator of Childline at Ahmedabad railway station.
He has been living there since. On Monday, Childline volunteers tied friendship bands to others who aid in protecting vulnerable children. This was part of the ‘Childline Se Dosti’ campaign they run every year from November 14 to 20. The objective of the campaign is to create awareness of Child Helpline services so that they can reach any child who seeks help, support or protection. The Centre for Development runs Child Help Desk at Ahmedabad Central Railway Station under the banner of Child Help Desk (CHD).