A Budding Talent: Pankaj – Delhi

Fourteen year old Pankaj belongs to Sharsa district of Bihar, an eastern state in India. He used to live there with his parents, three brothers and one sister. Pankaj went to Chennai, located in South India, with his uncle to learn the art of applying mehendi (henna) and make a living. After four months of working with his uncle, Pankaj decided to leave. He did not like the place, understand the language or receive pay from his uncle. In June 2005, without informing his uncle, he went to the station to catch a train to Patna, a few hours from his hometown in Bihar. Pankaj was missed the train that day so he waited at the station overnight for the next train. While he was waiting, a policeman tried to make him clean the station. He ran from the platform and boarded a train to Delhi. 

After wandering for some time on the streets of Delhi, Pankaj reached Fatehpuri. In days to come he made a few friends and joined one of them to work in a nearby restaurant.

After working there for 20 days, he got to know his employer and his way of thinking. He realized that he would not be paid and left the job. While working in the restaurant, Pankaj used to visit the restroom complex of Fatehpuri Night Shelter. There he walked into a hall managed by Butterflies where he saw children having milk and bananas for breakfast. He also learned that the children studied in the shelter and participated in various programs. He was soon motivated to join Butterflies’ activities and started attending education classes held every morning in the shelter.

Noting the safety of the shelter and the facilities being provided, like water purifiers, lockers, bedding, nutritious meals etc, Pankaj started staying in the Fatehpuri Night Shelter. He also started working as a ragpicker to make ends meet. He worked hard picking rags and also attended classes regularly. In addition to his interest in studies, Pankaj also loves drawing and painting. Butterflies staff noticed his interests and enrolled him in the National Institute of Open Schooling in addition to providing opportunities for his artistic talents to blossom. He performed well in the painting competition organized by HUDCO in September 2005 and also won second prize in a painting competition organized by Butterflies in December 2005.