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Destiny of Roadside Kids First impressions story on the street kids of jaipur

If you look beyond the beautiful pink buildings lining the streets of Jaipur City and focus on the crowd, look closer and a little lower. By doing so that is how I discovered a young illiterate girl, Shanvi. Like the millions of underprivileged children living in extreme poverty in India, Shanvi's destiny is nothing but uncertain.

"I started to help my dad collect trash since I was ten. I do this five times a week and usually earn 100 or 200 rupees per day", (Shanvi, 2017)

Nearing the late afternoon, a young girl was trudging through Badi Choupad markets. Drawing my gaze towards the small figure was the ray of white that trailed behind her. Within a few seconds the girl, along with what looked to be a white woven sack, passed me by. Her petite figure could have easily been engulfed by the sack on her back.

Looking closer at her face it dawns on me that I have mistaken her as being a girl in her early twenties. She is not a woman, just a kid. Her physique is that of a preteen, a girl yet to experience puberty. The white sack trailing behind her is the bag she tugs around most days in Jaipur. Instead of a bag filled with school supplies, hers is a worn out sack with trash.

Unlike the street kids I have encountered at the Amber Palace, this girl expressed no intentions to beg for money from us. Her level of maturity would make you reconsider whether she really is only a kid. While other mischievous children are notoriously known for bombarding visitors at tourist destinations for some rupees, this young girl stood silently with her sack when I asked to speak to her.

Her name is Shanvi and at thirteen years of age she works full-time as a collector of rubbish. Everyday she wakes up to collect trash from which she scavengers out items that can be traded for rupees. When asked about her future, Shanvi replied in Hindi that she would most likely follow in her father's footsteps and continue trash picking.

Without any level of education, there is little hope for Shanvi to break free from the life amongst roadside trash. Education is the vital component that differentiates whether a lifetime of poverty awaits a child's future. According to Mr Divindra Singh Rathore, a recognised tour guide for Jaipur, breaking out of the poverty cycle can only be done through education.

“Education is the only way out of this [lifestyle]. When the father or mother does not get an education, rarely does their child so you can see how this becomes a cycle that keeps going”, Mr Rathore said.

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