Tokai

“Tokai” is a local Bangla word, meaning collector. It means one who collects or picks up the abandoned things especially from the roadside. He is basically a boy of the street having no home and hearth. He leads a very dirty and unhygienic life. He puts on torn and patched up clothes. Bad smell comes from his body and dress. He roams about in the streets all day long picking up torn papers and clothes, wood and other refuses. He maintains his livelihood by selling those things. Majority of the tokais belong to the age group of 8-15 years but aged tokais are also found. Usually, girl tokais are fewer in number than boys. They are mostly illiterate and are newcomers to the City. Tokais usually belong to the large size families. Majority of the tokais come from a single-parent family and sometimes they are deserted by their families also. Tokais pass their night on the verandas of shops, the pavement of streets or railway platform. If he can save money, he goes to the cinema hall to enjoy a film. The tokais’ figure is prominent when the political leaders need to show a large number of supporters. They hire tokais from the street and give them a packed lunch. During strikes, they are hired for picketing. They also join political processions in exchange for a negligible amount of money. What an irony! These politicians often speak of their political achievements or purposes. Actually, their political purposes and promises are hollow. NGOs have taken different programs for the welfare of the tokais. Underprivileged Children’s Educational Program (UCEP) started functioning in Dhaka City since 1973. UCEP’s main function is to provide children with vocational-cum-primary education, within a span of 4 years. The UCEP’s coverage has extended to other cities also. However, we all should come forward with a sympathetic mentality to rehabilitate them so that they can lead a normal life.