New Delhi: As sports enthusiasts took to the street on Sunday to run the Delhi Half Marathon, several children who have themselves overcome adversities in life, ran with them to express solidarity with their peers living deprived and marginalised lives.
A group of 150 children -- some of whom toiled in difficult labour conditions till recently and some of whom were trafficked as bonded labourers -- joined the run enthusiastically.
Adopted by a child support NGO, the children now have access to education and want every child in the world to live the life of a child.
For these children, running for a cause is not just a catch phrase.
They have chosen to be part of this venture as the cause they desire to highlight is not only close to their heart but also an experience of the past.
"It is not fair. The right place of a child is at school and no child should be forced to work in inhuman conditions," says 14-year-old Jyoti, who hails from Uttar Pradesh`s Firozabad district.
Jyoti knows fairly well the meaning of a lost childhood, having spent time working at a bangle-making unit in her hometown to help her family make ends meet.
She says by participating in the marathon, she and the other children want to draw the attention of the people to the fact that there are so many children who are unable to be themselves.
Among the children rubbing shoulders with professional runners, amateurs and celebrities was Suman from another village of Uttar Pradesh, who is actively involved in promoting health programmes in her community.
"Every child has a potential to succeed.And the children born in a vulnerable and marginalised world need a helping hand from the society and support from the law to protect them from child labour," she said.
"The way we are hoping for a good future today, many others like us can is offered a helping hand. This is what we want to show by running here," she said.
Dola Mohapatra, National Director of ChildFund India, said it has adopted these children as part of its child sponsorship programme that is active in 78 districts.
"We are running to highlight the cause of children who are still in deprived, excluded and vulnerable condition.
"We also want to highlight the plight of children affected with HIV/AIDS, and those who are unable to enjoy their childhood because of being engaged in child labour," he said.