For 30-year-old homeless Raju, pavement is the floor and sky is the roof. While most of us head towards houses once the night falls and slip inside blankets for a cozy sleep, Raju and countless people like him spend night without blankets and pillows. All they have is a few sheets of newspapers which can hardly protect them from cold.
Not all street dwellers are beggars. Most of them are homeless or daily wagers from nearby cities who sleep on pavements after having missed the bus or train. “Most of the people we found sleeping on the streets were daily wagers. They earn close to Rs 150 every day and sometime they cannot afford mode of transportation other than passenger trains and thus spend night on streets,” explains Kiran Kumar, a social worker associated with Green Dot Trust and in-charge of rehabilitation centre for street dwellers (men) near Vidhyavardhaka College.
The trust, along with the Mysuru City Corporation (MCC) nodal officers Byralingaiah and Kantaraju, conducted a rapid survey on Wednesday night and rehabilitated 45 people including five women to shelters allotted for street dwellers. They were found sleeping on the streets of City Bus Stand, K R Hospital premises, City Railway Station, Dhanvantari Road, Sayyaji Rao Road and Agrahara.
The city has two rehabilitation centres for men and women. While men’s centre has a capacity to accommodate 50 people, women’s centre on Devaraj Urs Road has two rooms that can accommodate 20 women.
Kiran says that though there are many homeless people sleeping on the streets, majority of the people aren’t aware of this centres, while a few people voluntarily come here, sleep and head to work in the morning. He said that dinner and medical check-up if need be, is arranged for them at no cost.
Sharing his experience on how tough life could be, one of the street dwellers said that he had no home and sleeps near the City Railway Station. “Besides the fear of theft, the thrashing by the police is more frightening. Police officials on patrol beat us with stick as they don’t want us to sleep on streets. I could do nothing but to run away,” he said with tears in his eyes.
“On an average, 20 people voluntarily come and stay at centre. During survey of this kind, which is jointly conducted with MCC every month, we find 35-40 people who we take to the centre. A survey will be conducted the next night to ensure we don’t see the same faces,” adds Kiran.
Secretary of the trust, Dr Kantaraj and office in-charge rehabilitation centre (women) Manjula were part of the survey.