Every day, children aged 3 to 15 years flock to Sai baba temple located at Red Fort parking area, where police constable Than Singh waits for them.
He runs a free school – Than Singh ki Pathshala – to help these children in Delhi’s slums escape a life of crime and labour.
Born in Rajasthan’s Bharatpur, Than Singh himself was raised with two siblings in the slums of Delhi.
While his father would iron clothes for a living, he would sell corn on the street as a child.But he never underestimated the importance of studies, he says.
Memories of his childhood rushed back to him in 2013 when he saw a few children selling plastic bottles on the street and picking up rags near Red Fort.
“Many tourists would come and click their photos, mocking their circumstance, I hated to see that. These children were doing odd jobs for Rs 50 because their parents did not have enough resources to take care of them,” he says.
“Also, I found these children had started eating gutka (betel nut). I wanted to look for options so that these children could do what they are meant to do at this age — study,” he adds.
So two years later, he started the pathshala (school). “My main objective to teach these children was to prevent them from committing crimes in future and instil good behaviour among them,” he says.
Starting with four children in 2015, today Than Singh teaches more than 80 children from Raj Ghat, Vijay Ghat, Shantivan, Red Fort, Lohe-wala-pul (Old Yamuna Bridge).
“There is no other peace than working for these children. I could be the reason towards bringing a change in their lives with just a little support. What could have been better than this for me?” he asks.