Durga Roy is on the Change Agent programme at CINI. She had strong connections to the street in her childhood and was supported by CINI. This is her incredible story.
“My journey from being a street connected child to becoming a Change Agent and working for the rights of other street-connected children has not been a piece of cake.
I had strong connections to the street as a child. I was subjected to torture by an alcoholic father, which only strengthened my connection. With each day, I started spending more time at the station. While my mother sold food to passers by near the parking area, I used to slip out to play with my friends.
I remember how difficult it was to survive under a plastic shed during monsoons. Sometimes we would sleep inside the station to protect ourselves from rain, only to get beaten by the police.
I met a street worker from CINI who saw me begging and visited me regularly. After such a long time, I had found someone who was interested in me and wanted to know what I liked and had to say.
The time spent with her was memorable. She told me to access CINI’s Safe Space during the day and stay at the girl’s shelter home at night. But in the beginning, I was quite apprehensive. I didn’t know whether to trust her. Her consistent visits helped me overcome that.
With the little money that I earned through begging, I bought meals and spent the extra to stay at CINI’s night shelter for girls. The door leading to a better life was right in front of me. With my consent, I was enrolled in a shelter home. But one thing that didn’t change was the involvement of the street workers at CINI. They encouraged me to come to them regularly, which I did.
I still remember my first day as a street worker. It will always be etched in my heart.
When I saw the children being deprived of their rights, it brought back memories from my past. Dancing was a passion of mine as a child and I recalled how I was once forbidden from participating in a dance competition because I was a street child.
Now after receiving street work training, I’m actively motivating the children to speak up for their lost rights. It always gives me pleasure when children come up to me when I go to the street. They call me “Didi” which means elder sister. I am one of their closest ones.
The children’s knowledge always astonishes me. During my street work, children have helped me to reveal unnoticed places in the station. They love to share their daily experiences with me. It makes me feel proud that I have become a trustworthy adult in their lives.
Once I met two new children and they didn’t interact with me. I gave them my time and met with them regularly. About a month later I invited them to join some activities and they said ‘yes’! Their participation delighted me and I am sure no other thing can give that much happiness.
People in the community appreciate my efforts. They trust me and share their problems with me. My hard work and dedication has paid off.
I wish to devote my entire life working for the children living in street situations and to help them dream big.”