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Transforming lives of the homeless

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Transforming lives of the homeless

Tarique Mohammad Quereshi is the founder of Koshish, an organisation that fights for the rights of beggars. Most states in India criminalize beggary to banish destitutes from the streets to state run homes. This criminalization coupled with a lack of rehabilitation further marginalizes beggars and also destitutes, as the homeless and indigents are often mistaken as beggars. Tarique challenges and transforms such perceptions on the part of the public and the state and its institutions, by focusing on the circumstances that led to destitution and designs appropriate action.

While Koshish started as an emotional response, it has grown in its methods, goals and impact. To ensure that the destitute get basic human rights, Tarique has evolved and adapted the organisation, doing research, using techniques like games to build relationships between staff at the homes and the detainees, counselling, non-confrontational lobbying with authorities, outreach to potential employers and much else.

Tarique has sensitized the judiciary and drawn attention to the existing systems limitations by understanding the background of those arrested and differentiating beggars from those who are not. He has collaborated with the Magistrate's office to legally permit Koshish to represent the destitutes before the authorities. Tarique has also partnered with the Ministry of Human Resource Development to extend its existing program to provide vocational training in the slums to the homes. Through this program, destitutes undergo a three-month course on building their skills and receive a certificate from the government at the end of the course. Koshish has helped more than 30, 0000 people to establish a life outside government homes and with 14 homes in Maharshtra.

Tarique's next project would be to curb the beggar mafia and tighten the laws against them. He is a member of the National Urban Health Mission Plan and chairs the law committees in Delhi and Bihar.

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