No More Missing: To Reunite Child Beggars With Their Families, Click A Photo & Share On Social Media

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A couple of days ago, Ankit was thronged by a group of child beggars near Phoenix mall in Pune. Had it been someone else, they might have dismissed the kids with a few ten-rupee notes or simply ignored them. But Ankit stumbled upon a little boy among them, still uneasy with the practice of approaching people for money. Immediately, he managed to click a photo of the boy and shared it on the public Facebook group – No More Missing. The photo has been circulating on social media for the past few days and active searches are on for the boy’s family.

‘No More Missing’, a citizen-driven pan-India initiative to prevent child trafficking has managed to rescue and reunite hundreds of missing children with their families. Their basic mandate is to stop giving money to child beggars anywhere but to circulate their photo instead. 

The Horrifying Menace Of Child Trafficking

The movement was launched in September 2015 by Dr Vandna Guliya, a social activist from Delhi. She was deeply troubled by frequent reports of little children being trafficked into begging rackets which are active in urban pockets. As a mother, she was inevitably worried about the safety of her own children and genuinely concerned about the rising menace of child trafficking. 

“Most of the child beggars we find on the streets might have been abducted and sold into this abysmal profession. Some of them have been trafficked hundreds of miles away from their homes. Finding a missing child in India is like searching for a needle in a haystack,” Vandna explains the problem to Efforts For Good

No one has ever become poor by giving
– Anne Frank

How No More Missing Works

This is where the power of social media comes in handy. It takes just a few moments to upload the photo of a child beggar along with the location. The photo is circulated widely on Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter or Instagram in dedicated No More Missing groups or among the public until the child is reunited with the family.

Photos of missing children are also uploaded and shared along with a detailed description. Harnessing the splendid outreach of social media is way faster than solely depending on police authorities or Missing Persons Bureau to initiate action.

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“We have more than 20 crore members in India who keep the No More Missing network active 24×7. The impact of the movement has gone beyond borders. Countries like the UK, USA have started similar citizen-driven programmes to ensure the safety of children,” shares Vandna.

No More Missing
No More Missing volunteers

Vandna believes that creating awareness about the safety of kids deserves paramount importance. She operates a No More Missing core team comprising 12 full-time members who conduct safety workshops for children and their parents in schools and communities across India, especially Delhi, Rajasthan and Hyderabad. The entire funding comes from Vandna’s personal savings. She strongly discourages any attempt to monetise the movement.

How To Ensure Your Child’s Safety

In most cases, a child goes missing due to momentary negligence by the parent, be it in a crowd or public transport. No More Missing trains parents how to stay alert all the time. They also teach children how to protect themselves in public spaces and strangers with malicious intent.

Vandna advises, “We request all parents to approach the authorities immediately in case their child goes missing. They should file a report to 1098 and go through all the documentation paraphernalia in details. All these are very important in locating a missing child.”

No More Missing
Vandna conducting an awareness session at a school

“You take pity on a poor child in shabby clothes and give them some money. Little do you realise that money will only end up in the hands of racketeers. Our responsibility is to break this vicious cycle. Give them food, clothes and share their photos around – that’s the best way to prevent them from turning into beggars,” she adds.

A-lister celebrities like Vidya Balan, Anil Kapoor and John Abraham have pledged their support to the No More Missing movement. The team also has plans to coordinate with Smriti Irani, Minister of Women and Child Development, for more effective child protection measures across the country.

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A Group Of Karnataka Women Pushes Alcoholic, Abusive Husbands & Social Stigma Aside, Earns Through Recycling Workshop

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At thirteen, Neela was married off to a husband much older than her. At sixteen, she became a mother, and at nineteen, she was a widow. Despite having no regular income, she was faced with the daunting task of taking care of her in-laws, her own parents and of course, her little daughter. For young Neela, life has never known a trajectory where her voice is heard and her destiny is not blamed. That was until she came under the ambit of Hosa Belaku Artisan’s Foundation and discovered a new identity for herself. The taste of financial independence was indeed delightful for her, but her zeal to work hard for a newer, better life stood at the helm of it all.

No one has ever become poor by giving – Anne Frank

Founded by Kameshwari from Bengaluru, the foundation works with distressed women in three Karnataka villages, helping them to earn their livelihood by handcrafting a wide range of decorative or daily-use household items. Like Neela, nineteen women with struggles similar or worse, have found a new lease of life at Hosa Belaku Artisan’s Foundation. Every piece of item created at Hosa Belaku is recycled from leftover fabrics, paper, dry waste or scrap metals.

Hosa Belaku – a new dawn

“I have been working in the social sector for the past two decades. Since 2013, I got associated with Belaku Trust, who was working with rural women in Karnataka,” shares Kameshwari, a former legal executive. 

“Most of these women were victims of alcohol abuse and harassment on the domestic front. Some were widowed, single mothers or differently-abled – making life all the more hard for them in a patriarchal society. Unfortunately, circumstances led Belaku Trust to close their operations in 2015. The women were left in a lurch,” she narrates.

Some of these women desperately pleaded with Kameshwari to let them sustain their only source of income and independence. Moved by their plight, Kameshwari resolved to do her best to help as many women as possible. Investing a sizeable proportion of her own savings, she launched the Hosa Belaku Artisan’s Foundation in 2017.

At present, the foundation has active workshops in three villages in the suburbs of Bengaluru, namely, Halasuru, Achalu and Kadahalli. 

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The gritty women of Hosa Belaku

At the prime of her life, Pavithra’s husband left her for another woman. Heartbroken and devastated, she was clueless about how to earn her living. The story is similar for many other women in these villagers, with careless, abusive or estranged husbands, most being alcohol addicts. The pangs of poverty would sometimes become more unbearable than the constant physical abuse by their husbands. Yet, they had no way to have some respite from the ordeal. Few women did work seasonally as agricultural labourers. The backbreaking toil in the sun would take a toll on their health, while the deplorable situation at their homes would haunt them for the rest of the year.

Empower Poor Women To Rise Out Of Poverty

Kameshwari mortgaged her jewelery for Rs 6 lakh to start Hosa Belaku Artisian's Foundation. Most of the women employed in this foundation face domestic violence in their homes. Kindly donate here : bit.ly/hosabelaku

Posted by Efforts For Good on Sunday, July 21, 2019

Society, with its primitive doctrines, only made it worse for these women. For instance, nobody was willing to marry Shivlingi because she had a facial deformity. After a point, her own brothers abandoned her as if she had become a liability.

If one visits these women now, they would be found basking in their newfound success with Hosa Belaku. But, not only the women, Hosa Belaku’s workforce comprises a 19-year-old young man as well. All his life, Yogi, who is affected by Polio, had accompanied his mother everywhere. She used to work with the foundation until she recently passed away in an accident. Yogi’s father is visually-challenged, so the entire family received a major emotional and financial setback after his mother’s sudden demise. A helpless Yogi would painstakingly drag himself from door to door in search of work. “We took him in and trained him in toy-making. Now you would find him in a corner, making beautiful toys for children,” shares a proud Kameshwari.

Sunshine, Lamp and Dawn – Illuminating lives

The women groups at the three villages are designated with three unique names and assigned with a unique task each. Kirana (Sunshine), the group at Kadahalli is involved with paper products, making notepads, bags and jewellery.

The Halsuru group Deepa (Lamp) has adopted the art of block printing. Vibrant, stylish and beautiful handbags, cushion covers, stoles and notebooks are curated with the utmost care and precision by the women.

At Ushe (Dawn), needle and thread rules. Women who were already skilled in sewing and embroidery now earn by making stuffed toys, patchwork products and embroidered fabrics.

True to their names, the groups have indeed brought new light into the lives of their employees.

Suma and Jayamma are both senior workers at Kirana who have succeeded in constructing small concrete houses for themselves, a huge step up from the dilapidated huts they spent their youth in. Another aged lady in the same group has another compelling achievement to be proud of. Bearing the taunts and trauma from her drunkard husband all her life, she has single-handedly raised a son and a daughter with proper education. Her son, who is currently an aspiring engineer, was supported with a laptop from Hosa Belaku. Honamma, a young widow from the group Deepa is treading a similar path, raising her son all on her own.

The only solace

How much gratitude these women have towards Hosa Belaku is perhaps evident from Shri’s unwavering dedication. Diabetes is taking a toll on her eyesight yet she refuses to give up and continues etching her grit on the ornate block-printed fabrics.

The reason for such gratitude is manifold. For the conscious urban consumers, Hosa Belaku is striving to save the environment with their 100%-recycled policy. But, for the workers, it is the lifeline which not only offers them economic security but also allows them a place to voice, share and resolve the problems plaguing their lives.

“They come here and find a peaceful break from their household obligations. Some still face domestic violence regularly, the workshop is an escape for them. They discuss their issues and try to find feasible solutions. It takes the load off their tired minds. The work here is a breath of fresh air for them,” Kameshwari asserts.

“We have been assisted time and again by established non-profits and retail chains across Bengaluru, who have graciously showcased and marketed products made by our artisans. We would like more people to know about Hosa Belaku and its incredible women, and respect their brilliant spirit by purchasing their crafts,” Kameshwari expresses her wish.

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Quote
It's not how much we give
but how much love we put into giving.
- Mother Theresa Quote
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