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Street Children from India Grab Medals at Brazil ‘Mini-Olympics’

Meet the street children from Chennai who grabbed gold and silver for India in ‘Mini-Olympics’ at Brazil.

Updated
Sports
3 min read
The street children have been rescued, protected and trained by <a href="http://www.karunalaya.in/">Karunalaya</a>, a centre for Street and Working Children in Chennai. (All Photos: <a href="http://www.streetchildunited.org/street-child-games-2016/">Street Child United</a>)

The first ever Street Children Games held in Rio de Janerio in Brazil has just ended. But it might just be the beginning of possibilities for five Indian street children.

Termed Mini-Olympics, the international sporting event for children from the streets across the world witnessed as many as 14 countries taking part in the games. As the Indian children went on to win a Gold, a Silver and a Bronze medal, what they achieved in terms of confidence, dignity and recognition is priceless.

Rescued, protected and trained by Karunalaya Social Service Society, a centre for Street and Working Children in Chennai, the children conquered countless hurdles to be recognised.

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15-year-old Hepsiba lives in a shelter for the homeless in Chennai. Her mother is a breakfast vendor and income is uncertain.

Despite the odds, Hepsiba is pursuing her education and is in the 11th grade. Hepsiba’s talent in running brought her to Karunalaya and she got a chance to train herself.

She came out with flying colours at Rio after wining a gold medal in the 100 meters sprint, a silver medal in the 400 meters race and a bronze medal in the hurdles race.

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Image Altered By The Quint

A school dropout, Sneha lost her father to alchoholism when she was too young to understand what it means to live life on one’s own. Sneha, a 9th-grade dropout, then started working at a bed manufacturing company to support her family.

At the age of 15 she is the only bread-winner for her family and earns Rs 200 per day after 12 hours of rigorous labour. After Karunalaya identified her talent in athletics, she was provided training in running and long jump.

She was selected for the Rio games, based on her interest to ace the long jump category.

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A runaway boy, Ashok’s father was addicted to alcohol and often abused him physically. Finding it hard to cope up with the beatings and misery of the family, he ran away from his home and boarded a train to Chennai.

As he wandered in the city for survival, he tried hard to make money doing small jobs. But he soon realised that exploitation and abuse was equally a part of this new life. Ashok was rescued by the Karunalaya staff from a railway station, and soon the members discovered his hidden talent.

Ashok has won a bronze medal in shot put.

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Image Altered By The Quint

18-year-old Usha, dwells on the streets of Chennai with her parents and two siblings. Without a toilet, a bathroom, a peaceful place to study in the barrack road area, Usha’s life is as difficult as it could be in a roadside shanty.

Usha was a born leader. She was identified by Karunalaya during a skill development programme. Still in her early teens, she was a brilliant orator and became a leader of the children in the area.

She was selected for street child games based on her ability to speak in congress on child rights and issues concerning street children.

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Silambarasan’s family of five has been living in a shelter home for many years. As the boy’s family struggled to sustain a livelihood, Silambarasan has strived hard to keep his education going.

He was interested in athletics. After observing his talent, Karunalaya provided him with the opportunity to emerge as a sprinter.

He may not have won a medal at the street child games this year, but that does not undermine his confidence and desire to excel in life.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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