The boy walked up to his father's body at a crematorium, moved the sheet from the face, held the cheeks with both hands, just said 'papa' & began sobbing.— Shiv Sunny (@shivsunny) September 17, 2018
The man was yet another poor labourer who died in a Delhi sewer on Friday. Family did not have money even for cremating him. pic.twitter.com/4nOWD9Aial
Every year, almost 100 people lose their lives while working in sewers in India, mostly due to the lack of adequate safety equipment and training. Yet, their tragic deaths rarely make the headlines.
Recently, a 27-year-old sewer worker, identified only as Anil, reportedly fell to his death after the rope that was used to lower him in to the drain suddenly broke. The incident took place in the capital city of New Delhi and only drew people’s attention when a photograph of the man’s young son went viral on social media.
A reporter for local newspaper The Hindustan Times captured the heartbreaking moment minutes before Anil’s body was to be cremated. He watched as the 11-year-old child moved the white sheet off his father’s face and called out to him as he wept.
Apparently, the family did not have enough funds to give the man a proper funeral.
The scene left reporter Shiv Sunny “shaken,” so much so he decided to upload the photo on Twitter in a bid to raise awareness about deaths of sewer workers, which mostly go unnoticed.
“I am a crime reporter and I have seen a lot of tragedy. But this was something I had never seen,” Sunny told BBC. “I just wanted to draw attention to the deaths of sewer workers. It [the photo] told the story of the family's plight.”
He also revealed the grieving family’s neighbors had pitched in money for Anil to be cremated.
However, the heartbreaking photo soon blew up, prompting local nonprofit Uday foundation to step in and to raise funds for the victim’s children. In just 24 hours, online users were able to collect over $43,000.
It just takes all of us to make small contributions to make a big change together. We can’t bring back the father of that child, but the last 24 hours have contributed way more than our target of 24 lakhs, which would ensure the education and well-being of that Kid and family. pic.twitter.com/ZwHEyEhqhw— Yashwant Deshmukh (@YRDeshmukh) September 18, 2018
“That was totally unexpected,” Sunny said, referring to the outpour of support.
According to the reports, Anil had lost his four-month-old son to pneumonia only a week ago as the poor man could not afford to buy medicines. He also left behind two young daughters.
Later, when the reporter went back to speak to the 11-year-old, the boy said he sometimes accompanied his father to work, where he waited outside “guarding his clothes and shoes against thieves.”
“My father would say it still wasn't yet time for me to enter the sewers,” the son told The Hindustan Times.
Hopefully, with the money raised for his family, the child would have a much better future.
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