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Mohan was 13 when he ran away from his village because he didn’t want to sit an exam. He ended up in Mumbai, fearing beatings or worse every time he slept on the streets, in shop doorways or bus stops. Like many of his young friends he turned to drugs, finding the highly addictive chewing tobacco “gutka,” glue sniffing and hashish helped him to cope.

His justification for drugs is

“You feel free. You don’t feel the stress of street life. You need to forget, block it all out. It’s an escape,” Mohan, now 25, told AFP.

Mohan is a poster child for numerous children on India’s streets who are lured by the fantasies of economic freedom in city life and end up taking drugs.  Mohan, is an exception in the sense that he found sanctuary at the Society Undertaking Poor People’s Onus for Rehabilitation — or SUPPORT for short. He beat his drug habit through its detoxification program and now he earns his living as a chef and is in contact with his family.

Children like Mohan often flee extreme poverty, and abuse in hopes of a brighter tomorrow. Often they end up on the streets with no direction.

Charities working with street children say the scale and the complexity of the problem is huge and becoming more acute as India’s population expands and migration to cities increases. Accurate figures are difficult to come by but India is estimated to have between 18 million and 20 million street children, according to charities and a number of research studies.

Non government organisations, and charities have limited resources and they try to do their best. Sad truth is there may be very little that can be done to prevent lots of ‘Mohans’ from falling prey to drugs. Read more here.