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NGO gives a new hope to children of waste collectors

Arlene Mathew

A drama session at Buguri.

A Bengaluru NGO has taken upon itself a responsibility perhaps nobody had thought of. Buguri, a community library started by volunteers of the NGO, Hasirudala, educates children of waste collectors around Banashankari. The children go there after school hours from Wednesday to Sunday.

Pallavi Chander, a volunteer, shared her experience at Buguri with The Observer.

The idea of Buguri was conceived by Lakshmi Karunakaran, who works for Hasirudala. She, along with other volunteers, was able to secure the second floor of an old-age home near the Banashankari Metro station for the library. This was no easy task, said Pallavi, because they received no help from any government organizations. The owner of the old-age home initially had issues with housing slum children, for whom the library was planned.

“We wanted to bring the children out of the issues within their community, so that they could imagine other realities for themselves,” Pallavi said.

“Not many are bothered about how these children grow up. We want them to feel that this is their space, that they have someone to turn to.” Child marriage and substance abuse are rampant problems in the community, she shared.
The library, started on January 26, has 45 children in the 4-16 age group.

lasses are held from 4pm to 7pm.  The volunteers visit regularly and conduct sessions like book discussions, tell-back sessions and  art sessions. A tell-back session helps children come out with the problems they face, such as bullying.

There is a quarterly “roll of honour” for children who read more than 10 books.

They also have sessions were they tell stories they read. “We learn more at Buguri than at school. At school, our teachers shout and punish us, but here they are very understanding and patient,” a sixth grader who attends Buguri said.

“The children are eager, and come up with most of the ideas for the next class,” said Pallavi, smiling.

“Currently, they are working on a play based on their idea.”

While they struggle to read at school, Buguri is accelerating the learning process. The children’s joy is clear on their faces as they rush to attend three hours of fun-filled classes.

Funded by corporates, Buguri hopes to find more support to expand the library. It wants more children to join despite having many drop out due to issues like substance abuse. Buguri, which means ‘spinning top’ in Kannada, has lived up to the children’s expectations. The initiative, however, needs more volunteers and donors to keep it going.