Lucknow: For the first time, slum children in the 11-18 age group, who used to beg at traffic signals, will be participating in the Republic Day parade this year.
They will carry placards with the slogan ‘bhiksha se shiksha ki ore’ (from beggary to education).
Municipal commissioner Inderjeet Singh said, “In a first, beggars from slum areas will participate in the Republic Day parade of any state. Over 40 children, who used to beg at crossroads, are rehearsing daily for it.”
“Now, their life is transformed due to Project Smile that is aimed to bring these children out of beggary and connect them with the mainstream. We have been working with these children for the last 1.5 years,” added Singh.
He said that “The work of providing them education and connecting them with schools is being done. Now, we are bringing them to the parade practice so that they have some new experience and gain confidence.”
Balbir Singh Maan of NGO ‘Umeed’, which is playing an important role in Project Smile, said, “Earlier, these poor children used to beg for money. But we have been educating them since last year. Today, they are full of confidence to participate in the R-Day parade.”
Pratap Vikram Singh of Project Smile said, “The kids are performing at par with the kids of convents and government schools, rehearsing for the R-Day parade. A year-and-a-half back, these children never wanted to talk to anyone as they were not ready to trust us. It took us a long time to build trust. We gave them toys, started running smart classes for them and gave them exposure.”