Birkha Wanting More “I was just 13 when I left Nepal and came to Delhi to find work. I had to struggle a lot when I first came here, because I did not have a place to stay and was in need of a job. Now, I would like to stop pulling rickshaws because it is very dangerous and a lot of hard work for very little money. I have other ambitions. I would like to start my own cycle rickshaw repair shop but in order to accomplish this I need 5,000 rupees. Because of my meager earnings it is very difficult for me to save that much money. Almost all of my money goes in taking care of my basic necessities. As a rickshaw puller, I am very scared of police officers. They do not protect, as police should. They are a constant threat to me and other rickshaw pullers. I fear that if I ever enter a no parking zone by mistake or run a red light, the police officers will destroy my rickshaw and physically assault me.” Birkha has dreams beyond his situation, and does not give up on his ambitions though they seem out of reach. As a rickshaw puller he puts himself at risk every day in order to make a living, and lacks the resources to find support or protection. Mohammad Meri Hasan Looking for a Better Life “I left my home at the age of 13. I had no dream for my future; I just wanted to save myself from the barbarity of my school-master. I just wanted to find safety. I was very desperate, and nobody helped me so I stole money from my parents to buy a train ticket. When I reached Delhi, I was eager to start my life again and needed to begin working immediately, so I started pulling a rickshaw within 15 to 20 days. Since then, I have been attacked and beaten several times by customers and police officers, and I have been admitted to the hospital for many other problems I have had as well. Because of my injuries, I have only been able to make even half the money that I used to before, and it has been a great stress on me. I no longer want to be a rickshaw puller but I need the money to feed my family. My elder daughter has grown up and as a father I need money for her wedding.” Mohommad’s story epitomizes the frustration and danger many rickshaw pullers have felt and continue to experience in their lives. Out of desperation he fled to find safety but is still at risk, and even denies himself proper medical attention in order to feed his family. Anil Nayar No Other Option “When I was younger I used to make enough money but I spent all of my savings paying medical bills for my younger brother who had throat cancer. The medical bills became overwhelming and I had no choice to but to find other ways to make money. I came to Delhi to earn more so that I could take care of my family in Mumbai. Here I can make 5,000 rupees a month, and then visit every 3 months. I spend about 3,000 rupees in a month and try to save the rest for my family. At night, I sleep on the floor of my rickshaw, or on the ground under it. I have to work very hard and try not to spend money to be sure that I save enough for my family. When I have health problems, I feel stressed because as I have no money to pay for my medical care and neither can I work to earn more. This is a constant threat.” After his brother fell ill and his job did not make enough to pay the bills, Anil had to leave his family to make money elsewhere. He makes constant sacrifices, including his own comfort and safety. Stress is a major threat to many rickshaw pullers, and can cause severe medical problems. Santosh A Severe Accident Mr. Santosh Kumar Soni, a 50 year old Rickshaw Puller met with an accident near ZakirHussain Park in Ranchi, India on 26th September 2013. He was riding the rickshaw with a passenger in it when a van crashed into the rickshaw from behind. The passenger was thrown out onto the road side and Mr. Santosh rolled down the street with the rickshaw on top of him. Santosh was severely injured, hurting different parts of his body including his chest. He was then taken by the Police to Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS) for treatment where the hospital authority charged him Rs. 400 for an X-ray and other medicines. The garage owner informed Maitri about this incident two days after the accident saying that Mr. Santosh needed immediate treatment and expressed that Maitri could help intervene. On visiting the garage, the Maitri team found Mr. Santosh in severe pain. He had deep cuts on his leg and a swelling in his chest. Seeing his need for treatment, the Maitri team took him to K. C. Roy Memorial Hospital where he was given medical aid. The doctor informed us that he had no internal injuries besides cuts, swellings and body pain. Maitri provided him with necessary medication he needed which is helping him on his road to recovery. Rickshaw pullers have a very dangerous profession in which they are at risk each day. Despite this, the pay is usually very little, and most cannot pay for the medical expenses that come with the job. For Santosh, his accident was debilitating, but he could not afford treatment and there are no other resources or support available for rickshaw pullers in these situations. Luckily Maitri was contacted in time to help Santosh with his medical treatment and bills. Manish Stand by me Manish is a 22 years old Rickshaw Puller. He came to Delhi from Katihar District in Bihar to earn a living after he got married at the young age of 19. In September 2013 Manish attended Awareness Camp organized by Maitri in FarashKhana. During the counselling session on HIV/AIDS and STIs, he shared his concern about his risky sexual behaviours with multiple partners on GB Road, a famous red light area in Delhi. Furthermore, he showed interest in undergoing an HIV test as he was never able to get one done before due to lack of awareness. Upon his request, a Maitri Outreach Worker took Manish to the nearby Integrated Counselling and Testing Centre (ICTC) to get him tested. Unfortunately, test results found that Manish had contracted HIV. On hearing this, Manish was overwhelmed with depression, losing all hope. He knew his situation was dire and required immediate intervention. Maitri conducted follow-up care for Manish and referred him for post-test counselling at Maitri’s ICTC after which Manish’s mental Health greatly improved. Manish was also able to get registered at an Anti-Retroviral Treatment (ART) Centre for further care. Upon registration, Manish underwent the vital processes of CD4 counting, X-Rays, and ultra-sounds. It took only 15 days since Manish’ diagnosis for him to begin treatment at the ART Centre. With the proper medication and Health Care, Manish is now leading a healthy life. With gratitude in his heart for access to care and treatment, Manish is confident and determined to lead a “normal” life.