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My name is (Sankar) Kiran Nepali. I am sixteen, or seventeen or eighteen. These days, I work at the Himalayan Life Plastics company.

I was born in the Prithivichowk bus park slum. When I was very small, my parents were always fighting. Because of this, my father left, went to Butwal, and remarried. At that time my mother was working as a shopkeeper, selling vegetables. I was so small I could hardly walk, and my mother carried a dhoko full of vegetables with me balanced on top. It was hard for her. Then she too remarried. Her new husband took us to India. My mother and stepfather worked in a hotel. One day, I was playing, and I strayed away from my home and got lost. I was lost for several days while my parents searched for me. When they finally found me, they were upset about the strangeness of the country and the unkindness of the people, and decided to return to Pokhara.

My half-sister was soon born. After her birth, my biological father came to Prithivichowk and took me away from my mother. He brought me to Chitwan. At that time I was four or five years old. Then after half a year, my mother came to Chitwan and took me back to Pokhara again. When I was six years old, I started attending the Sahara School in our slum. The school was unpleasant, and I didn’t like staying inside the whole day. My friends often skipped class, and I started to as well.

Then one day a bideshi came to our house. Her name was Tina Miss. She asked me why I was wearing a uniform, but wasn’t in school. I explained, and she invited me to go to a different school, Janapriya. I agreed. But at Janapriya I made a bad friend, and he took me out to skip classes. One time while I was skipping school, I bumped into Tina Miss. She was so angry and shouted at me for not staying in the school. I failed the Class One exam. My little sister went to Class Two, but I was still in Class One. It took a long time and great difficulty before I made it to Class Two. From there, I progressed. But in Four, I learned to smoke with Sujan and Kaalu. My mother found out and started to beat me frequently. After that, I dropped out of school and left home. I was ten years old when I began living on the street. I learned from friends how to sniff glue, and Tulo Anil taught me how to carry a bora and collect rubbish. He was good to teach me, but if I did it wrong he hit me. But Anil always shared glue with me, and we were constantly together. He stole at night and gave me lots of his money. Even though he hit me, I liked him. One day, I discovered a bideshi organization called Sibin. They fed me rice and noodles and other things. I stayed there four or five days, but soon left because the other boys were always hitting me there.

I began to drink alcohol and chew tobacco. I joined a gang and we stole things at night. They taught me to steal money. One day, I was smoking and sniffing glue at the same time. I was walking on the road, really high, and a motorcycle hit me. A nearby policeman took me to hospital and it was discovered I had a broken leg. I spent a month in hospital, and luckily, the motorcyclist had to pay for my treatment. Sometimes people from a hotel brought me food, and sometimes in the evenings my mother did. After I left the hospital, it was very painful to walk. I had a full-length plaster cast on. One day, I cut the cast off and went swimming in the river. My leg got horribly infected, and I had to return to the hospital. They put on a new cast and I wore that for another month.

After my accident, I decided I wanted to change my life, quit smoking, and stop sniffing Dendrite. I began to live in my house again. But my mother and stepfather are from different castes, and they were always, always fighting. They drank a lot. It was hard for me, so once more, I left home. On the street, I gradually fell into the same habits as before. The best part of living of the street was when we all sat together sniffing glue. My gang had a dream that if we collected enough bottles and got rich, we could become rubbish collectors. The hardest part of living on the street was sleeping outside during the monsoon, and when the police beat us. I was thrown in jail four times. But sometimes, however, the police were kind. They told us we should change our lives and not live in the street. One in a while, we would clean the station, do gardening, scrub toilets, and they would pay us twenty rupees [$0.24 CDN].

Then one day, I met Chanman Uncle at 0 Km between Lakeside and Prithivichowk. He bought everyone in my gang chowchow and Frutti, and he told us, “Don’t worry about food. After a few months, we’ll being opening a kitchen in the Prithivichowk bus park. We’re looking for a place, and we’ll feed you when we find one.” I was there on opening day, and went regularly from then on. I spent six years attending the kitchen, and then when Indreni opened, I was here. When I first came, we used to bring our collected bottles with us to the shelter. The Indreni staff would pay us some money for the bottles, and then we would eat and sleep the night. I remember when we came in late at nine or ten o’clock, high on Dendrite, they would always be chastising us, saying, “Why are you late?” It was hard for me to take baths and wear clean clothes at first. I didn’t like sleeping alone instead of all piled up in the road together, and I didn’t like sleeping inside– I still don’t! Beds are too hot. But everything else was wonderful. On the first day, I liked it. On the second day, we played hockey and I really liked it. Then I started working at the factory when it opened. I stopped collecting bottles because I had a job during the day, and I began to learn things. I stopped sniffing glue. I was the first boy of all thirteen factory boys to curb my addiction. I still smoke, but I’m trying to stop. It’s really difficult. I want to be a good hockey coach, and I want to be a staff member here at Indreni. I love learning to use machines, and fixing them. When I grow up, I just want to us machines. I don’t like staying at home, because my stepfather is very cruel. I like my mum and little sisters– just last Saturday, I visited them. I like one of my sisters. She dropped out of school and
now works in a grocery shop. She can buy her own clothes now! I really miss her. She and my mum are the people I love most in the world. If I could have anything in the world, it would be an end to my smoking addiction. I also would like to swear less often. And when I’m older, if I get my citizenship, I want to visit a foreign country!

[Is there anything you want to say to the people who read this?]
When parents separate, it’s so hard for the kids. They don’t have love or care. It’s hard for kids, and they begin to make bad decisions. They can’t tell who is bad and who is good, and they make bad friends. So family is really important. Also, it is never good to use glue or alcohol or tobacco. It’s bad for your health.

chowchow: pre-cooked noodles
dhoko: large bamboo basket carried on the back; it is supported by a band across the forehead
Frutti: a popular Nepali fruit juice