There was a lot of talk in the drop-in room; the mothers looked sad and worried. ‘Imran’s lost’, they said. ‘He pooed in his bed in the morning and hasn’t been seen since.’
Three year old Imran has a bit of a problem having ‘accidents’ in places he’s not meant to. Unfortunately his mother’s response to this is to beat him. He had wandered off by himself before. Once he even came to our office alone. We’d continuously talked to Imran’s mother about supervising him appropriately and not beating him.
His older brother, probably only eight years old, is already living by himself on the streets and is only occasionally seen by his mother. We’re trying to prevent the same life for Imran but at the moment it seems like a loosing battle.
'Oh Allah! Ali Babu (the name of a Muslim saint)! Bring my son back to me', Imran’s mother came in crying and screaming. She could hardly stand, she was in so much distress.
We gave her a picture of her son to help her search and looked after her six month old daughter. Our outreach worker also helped her search. There were heavy monsoon rains that day and in the afternoon when I saw her, she was soaked, weeping and almost insane with worry. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a broken women.
We prayed together for Imran’s safe return. Imran was found by a local nursery. They organised a rickshaw to go around the area with a loud speaker shouting ‘Hasan’ had been found. Hasan is the name of Imran’s last step dad. His mother had an informational marriage to this man for a couple of months; he had fed her and the children and even rented a house for them for a while but soon after returned to his first wife. Eventually the search party decided to find out whether ‘Hasan’ was Imran and that night he was back with his mother.
Imran is a lively boy with big eyes and a big smile. He loves to sit under my desk singing. I fear for him; I am scared that he’ll grow up too fast and have to learn how to fend for himself too soon, that he’ll never go to school and instead learn to steal and survive ‘the streets’. My dream for the Children's Uplift Programme (CUP) is that we will be able to prevent Imran and other children like him from having this future.