I've been living in Paharganj New Delhi for over a month now. Its the center Of Delhi and the hub for tourists, plenty of Hotels, bars, restaurants and shops for the foreign traveler, its also where a lot of the disfigured beggars and street kids congregate to beg for money from the western tourist with a bleeding heart and a sense of humanity. These guys are pro's they know how to break the hearts and open the western wallet. That's how they get by from day to day.
I met a few of these kids while sitting in a cafe, I had more than enough food on my plate and couldn't eat it all. So when I saw those hungry eyes I couldn't just shoo him away. I asked the waiter to make my meal take away, when the food was brought out the child sat down in the street and started eating so robustly I couldn't imagine when was the last time he had a full meal.
Of course news spread fast and I had a few more who came up asking for chapati's, well most tourist's just give them 10 rupees and leave it at that. I knew these kids were hungry so I said wait, let me take you for a meal. The cafe I was in catered to western tourists, thus being more expensive. They needed a full meal that they could enjoy and would give them some nourishment. So for less than $1.00 each, I started feeding these kids. some days they would find me and some days they didn't. I refused any of the kids who were high or sniffing glue, and that has been my stance I will feed them but not if they are high.
And then I met Suresh, they call him fireboy. The first time I saw him I was surrounded by a bunch of street kids and we were laughing about some joke when I looked up and there he was, filthy, and badly burned. He showed me his hand and his fingers looked like charcoal. I called my Doctor friend and told him about the boy, he told me what to buy at the pharmacy, and that he would be in Parahganj shortly, to wait for him.
I bought some gauze and ointment for burns but I had no idea how bad fireboy was. When I noticed that the dirty rag around his head had fallen slightly back I saw more burns, I asked if I could see them. He removed the rag and I have to say not much shocks me but this was bad. The boy had no ear, it had been burned away. Only a hole left where the ear used to be and bad burns that were reeked of infection.
When Doctor came he saw him and said we need to get you to hospital, the boy was scared and didn't want to go. It took me three more days before I got him into a burn clinic.The second day I bandaged him myself with many onlookers, even a young doctor, who turned away when he saw how bad his ear was. But I had to get this kids confidence, and I had to show him love and caring and that he was human no matter what. The story behind the burns remains vague, I have heard three different versions. But whatever the truth is, the boy needs help.
He has an heroin addiction, along with whatever drugs he can find. He lives on the street and because he is an addict people take advantage of him. After I got him to a hospital we got him medicine I gave it all to him, big mistake. Within 3 hours it was all gone he said it was stolen , or maybe he sold it. But he was crying and when I asked the other boys what happened they said he was hit by a Sikh man. The next day I asked the boys to tell a friend of mine who is local to the hood who this Sikh was. It turns out he is a drunken cop. Wow so not only do I have drug addiction to deal with I have the cops.
But there is a lot of good that has come out of this, because of my compassion for these street kids the Doctor who has a NGO is going to open a center and a mobile clinic for them. He has given this to me as my project I have 8 social workers who report progress back to me. The center will take some time to get set up as will the mobile medical clinic but its a start. I got these social workers out there every day making contact and getting to know these kids.
Posted below I have pictures of Suresh aka Fireboy. Be aware they are not for the faint at heart. But notice how he is smiling after his return from the hospital. He was told that if he went with us we would throw him in jail, was happy he was back and looked after.