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February 18, 2017

132 children hope to meet parents

Lahore

February 18, 2017

Lahore

About 132 children, boys and girls, under the age of 18 have been waiting to see their parents at Child Protection Welfare Bureau (CPWB), Punjab and hoping against hope to be among their loved ones. These children have been housed there for different periods ranging from three years to 10 years. 

According to the documents available with The News, the children housed at six different institutions of CPWB across Punjab have been longing to meet their parents who are not traceable. 

There are 42 boys and 32 girls in Lahore, 16 boys in Gujranwala , 12 boys in Faisalabad, 13 boys  in Rawalpindi, five boys in Sialkot and 12 boys in Multan.

Apparently, the CPWB seems to have failed in tracing families of these children many of who got separated from them around ten years ago. Despite the fact that Pakistan has entered the era of information technology and there are platforms like Facebook and other online networks, the parents of the stranded children have not been traced. The bureau has placed announcements in print and electronic media and made Facebook pages/web pages with photographs of these children but to no avail.

Talking to The News, Fatima Sheikh, director general, CPWB Punjab, said the children were found stranded at shrines, railway stations, roadside and other place and taken into legal custody by the bureau that provided them with all necessities of life. Moreover, she said, the CPWB repeatedly visited the venues from where they were found but could not find any clue to their families. She said every time they took these children along but their parents could not be traced and one main reason for this was that their families had relocated. 

It is pertinent to mention here that some of the children do not want to give their exact address as they want to live at CPWB, she adds. Her point is that the children find life at the bureau far more comfortable than what they had been experiencing at home. 

The DG said social media did not prove to be helpful to reunite the children with their families because majority of the childern's families were illiterate and did not know how to make best use of the online tool. The children belong to poor families who use mobile phone only to attend or make a call and nothing else. 

She explained that all the child protection institutions managed by the Bureau provide residence, food, education, healthcare, psychological counseling and recreation facilities to the destitute and neglected children upon admission till the time they were reunited with their families

According to Waseem Abbas, a spokesperson for CPWB, Amna Gull, a 17-year-old girl who lives at CPWB, got a position in matriculation examination. "Though she is suffering from hearing impairment, she is studying at a special education college in Lahore and has excellent painting skills. Her paintings are worth-seeing. CPWB had found her at railway station in 2005," he said.

Another boy, Raees Nazir, under age of 18 was separated from his family in 2007. CPWB found him from Bhaati gate. He has appeared in the trials for Pakistan Super League (PSL) and Under 19 cricket team for Lahore.  Similarly, there is Zeeshan Idrees who is assistant chef at Gulberg Café X-2 now. He was found by CPWB Samanabad Lahore in 2007. He got training of chef from Technical Training Educational Vocational Training Authority (TEVTA) and found this job.