Dipak, 18, volunteers at the Balghar (community education centre) in the slums of Karachalya Para. He began attending Shaishav’s circle point 5 years ago, which was held in his community once a week. His regular attendance, enthusiasm and eagerness to take responsibility meant that he quickly assumed leadership role there. However, Dipak has had some testing times. Family issues sent him down a grave path of depression and misery. He reached a critical stage and even tried to end his life. Dipak has found the willpower and strength to pursue his education and with constant monitoring and support from Shaishav has become one of Shaishav’s success stories. He has come a long way and is an asset to the organisation.

Dipak’s mother and father belong to different castes. This has caused much family tension. He struggled to cope with the negative impact this was having on his personal development and his family. Unfortunately, even today in the 21st century, the caste system remains prominent. It is a perilous system which hinders progress and causes horrific pain and trouble. Dipak’s father belongs to a lower caste, consequently Dipak had many problems when it came to admission in school. He was not granted the same support and benefit he would have received if his mum had married within her own caste. For a young child such issues are naturally difficult to comprehend. Even, for people unfamiliar with such systems would find such injustice difficult to grasp. The constant family tension within his house caused Dipak to plunge into critical depression. He would not eat, could not sleep and began self harming himself. He no longer had the will to live.

Pre-Shaishav there was no organisation in Saurashtra to support children like Dipak; to comfort and console children who were dealing with such issues at home. Unfortunately Dipak’s situation is not unique, many children suffer from depression and stories of child suicide are not uncommon. Fortunately Shaishav intervened in time to save Dipak. He was provided with counselling and was closely monitored for 3 years. He was encouraged to talk through his anger and problems, to read and pursue activities in which he got enjoyment out of. By keeping him active and providing Dipak with somewhere where he felt safe, loved and supported, he slowly started to realise the value of his life, he began to enjoy life, he did not brush aside his problems, but confronted them face on. It took Dipak a lot of courage to open up and expose his situation but in doing so he has seen very positive results.

During Dipak’s depression, he quit school (in 8th Standard) and started working. He did not have the motivation to learn or go to school. He just wanted to earn and so started working, making products such as pathlas (boards to make chapatti on). Shaishav staff spent a lot of time with Dipak to make him realise the importance of his education and what he can do if he studies further. After a lot of persuasion, he enrolled back in school and has not since looked back. With his college education he hopes to step into a good job. Shaishav helped Dipak to realise his dream, now Dipak wants to help other children fulfil their aspiration.

Dipak is not only a volunteers at the Balghar in Karchalya Para, he also a valuable member of Tharunsena (Youth Collective). Dipak explained how much knowledge he has gained since his involvement in Shaishav. Not only has he gained vast exposure of child exploitation and abuse, he has learnt how to deal with these issues, who to challenge about the situation and ways to improve the current circumstance. By telling his story, he can help other children realise that there is not just one path. There are many paths and Shaishav will aid them in choosing the right direction.

Dipak has a strong interest in strengthening Tharunsena. He believes that it would provide a strong supportive role for Balsena members and can help to initiate projects and challenge authorities at a higher level. Balsena and Tharunsena are our future generations. Their enthusiasm to fight for child rights, to initiate change and bring about justice for all children offers hope for future generations.