It is said that home is where the heart is — whether it’s a big marvellous villa, a small cottage or any other structure. Home and parents’ laps are the sweetest places on earth, where every Tom, Dick and Harry feels comfortable, secure and relaxed. Unfortunately, however, for some hapless children, ‘home’ means haunted houses and ‘parents’ mean obsessive creatures. This is why they try to find a way out; to escape the cage — which for more fortunate children may be home, sweet home.
I recently met such runaway children, who had fled from, amongst other things, parents’ beatings. Barkat Ali, Muhammad Nasir and Muhammad Imran — hailing from different parts of the country — are some of the disheartened children who left their houses with broken hearts and started living underneath open skies or in shelter houses. Life has taught them bitter lessons at a tender age. The ages of runaway children are commonly between five and 14 years.
Initially, reluctant to talk about their ordeals, they said that they left their homes because they were being subjected to violence by their own parents or by step-parents. They said that whereas most children run to their parents for protection from violence, in their case this is not an option. Insecurity at homes, with a lack of attachment to parents, and a state of feeling disowned and neglected, push the children to take the big step and bid adieu to their homes — forever.
However, Edhi Homes found these escapee children and initiated a mission to reunite them with their parents before Eidul Fitr. The Edhi Homes Karachi Centre bus carrying 40 runaway children, started its journey on June 12 from Karachi, and reunited children with their parents in Sindh, Punjab and other parts of the country.
Nevertheless, the majority of the children showed their unwillingness to return to their homes and preferred to stay in shelter houses. But these children are often unaware of the fact that roads are not safe for them either as they could be subjected to sexual abuse. What a fate! It is a vicious circle of violence for these children.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 30th, 2015.