50-year-old, Narayana drives an Auto at the Mahatma Gandhi Bus Station, Hyderabad. He is known for his kind nature amongst his fellow-men; he offers free rides for hospital visits and is always on the watch-out to help innocent children wandering alone in the bus stations – runaway children from homes, children separated from families and children who came to the city in search for a better life, but found none.
It was chilly December night and the clock hit 9:00 pm. Narayana has noticed a young girl, sitting on a stone bench. He started wondering about her and thought – maybe she would be waiting for her family to be picked up. His trail of thought was broken by a man in his late 30s. He has just arrived from the village in the remotest part of Telangana along with his parents, for medical treatment for his 65-year-old father. The man wanted to hire the auto to get dropped at the hospital. After a few seconds, the three-wheeled motorcycle sputtered tuk…tuk…tuk…
It was around 10:30 pm when he got back to his auto stand at the MGBS. He noticed the stone bench again and the girl was still there. He realised something was wrong and rushed to enquire about her situation. When he spoke to her, the girl burst into tears. She mentioned that she had run away from her native place in the rural parts of Telangana to make a living in Hyderabad. She had no idea what to do or where to go. She felt lonely and scared and had been sitting on the stone bench for the last three hours.
Having helped many children in the past, he knew exactly what to do. He spoke to her calmly and escorted her to the 24-hour CHILDLINE Helpdesk, run by My Choices Foundation. Our counsellors calmed her and assured her with hope. Looking at her fragile nature and tiredness, our counsellors offered her water, tea and biscuits. After she finished eating, she identified herself as Revathi and 17-years old.
Narayana said ‘Goodbye’ to Revathi and left with confidence that Revathi is in a safe place and counsellors would figure out a way to provide her with a good life and keep her away from the prying eyes of a trafficker. Our counsellors got into work. As per the procedure, the Child Welfare Committee was contacted and on their guidance, Revathi’s parents were telephoned. They got into the earliest train from their home town and reached Hyderabad the next day early morning – while Revathi was peacefully sleeping. She was happy to see her parents and her parents face expressed huge gratefulness and relief to have found her little girl.
We need people like Narayana – Rakshak – to save the little children from being trafficked. Thanks to the selfless efforts of Narayana and the CHILDLINE Help Desk team, Revathi is safely reunited with her family.
We met Narayana to understand his thoughts about trafficking. He shared, “She is a little girl and what would I have done if she is my daughter. There might be difficulties in our lives, but when we see the smiles on the children – even if they aren’t our own – our hearts are filled with happiness. We share that moment with them. That’s the life to live for.”
Narayana leads the Auto Drivers Unions and guides many auto drivers to help the children in need. Along with his friends, he has helped many children and is always available to help My Choices Foundation’s efforts. Our conversation ended with a mutual gratitude note, but a beginning of a beautiful partnership with Auto Drivers who are on the frontlines to help children like Revathi at Bus or Railway stations.
“My Choices Foundation, along with CHILDLINE is doing an amazing job. A 24-hour Help desk is not an easy thing and your counsellors knew exactly what to say to provide hope for children. All auto drivers at MGBS are always ready to lend a hand in any way possible,” Narayana said with a smiling face.
We cannot find perfect words to write how we felt about the conversation with Narayana. It was a feeling of intense joy, deep gratitude and showers of blessings.