One of the major challenges that ChoraChori has to contend with in reuniting children with families is that sometimes the children they rescue from India give false family details. Alok’s story is a case in point. The Salaam Baalak Trust handed this sixteen-year-old to the ChoraChori rescue team during its last visit to Delhi. At the time Alok had said that his parents weren’t alive and that his uncle who had been caring for him had abandoned him so he had travelled to Delhi to look for work.
The team was suspicious so field worker Rita Mokhtan was set to work contacting police stations in the Districts of Saptari and Jajarkot, (opposite ends of Nepal!) based upon addresses that Alok had offered. Finally Rita found his family – and the truth. Both parents were alive and quite well off. They said that Alok had run away after they’d threatened to take him out of school and put him to work as someone had told them that Alok had started smoking marijuana (perhaps incorrectly). Their intention had only been to scare him out of a bad habit. Once they realised he had run away they contacted the police and also put an ad on local newspapers offering to pay money to anyone who could help them get the child back, but to no avail.
After speaking with the parents, Shailaja and team interviewed Alok who finally admitted the truth. He spoke to his family over the phone and the parents came to Kathmandu for an emotional reunion last Sunday – and a big hug from his mother. The ChoraChori team is back in Delhi at the time of writing but after they return they’ll follow up the case and ensure that the reunification has been a success.