Zaid Sayed’s day begins at the helpdesk attached to the Juvenile Justice Board, in Pune. The helpdesk is a platform to receive queries related to children in conflict with the law and to work as per the need of these children. Next it is follow-up of children and interaction with them in the observation home. The prime objective behind all this is the rehabilitation and reintegration of children in conflict with law.
Zaid works with the Resource Cell for Juvenile Justice which is a field action project of TISS (Tata Institute of Social Sciences). The reference to his work reminds me of a Hindi song “Koi naa bhalaa buraa…” (“No one is intrinsically good or bad; it’s just that some have strayed from the right path). As a part of his work, Zaid has managed to rehabilitate quite a number of boys from the Observation Home. At a tender age, these boys land up on a wrong path. They need a proper guide, and Zaid has emerged to be that guide. He renders positive energy in those who have lost spirit and brings back to the mainstream of society those who had wandered from it.
Zaid’s father and friends give him all the support in this undertaking, and he needs all the moral and emotional support he can get. This work has not been easy, as it comes with interference from political workers and politicians, in some way or other, and he has even been threatened by some. He has managed to continue working without paying much heed to them.
In Pune, when some juvenile delinquents are stuck in a legal conflict, Zaid provides them with social legal guidance and support through the project he is associated with. He has also conducted counseling and training sessions regarding child protection and laws related to children for various stakeholders. He has also conducted many training sessions for reputed organizations including YASHADA (Yashwantrao Chavan Academy of Development Administration) and Police departments.
It is difficult to imagine that Zaid was at one time at risk of falling into bad ways himself due to the company he hung around with in school, despite having an educated and financially secure family background. His father was a journalist, with a keen interest in social work, who became his prime motivator and support. Zaid has always been an average student in his family of high achievers yet he was never dejected or made to feel any less of an achiever; he credits his father for this. Zaid describes how after a less-than-average performance in his board exams, his father celebrated his passing and distributed sweets as if he had passed with flying colours! Zaid’s brother too was attached to the social sector where he worked for the prevention of HIV Aids. He was the first one to inspire Zaid to apply for a masters in social work. Zaid is now pursuing a degree in Law, and intends doing his PhD as well.
After his MSW (Masters in Social Work) Zaid got an opportunity to work with reputed organizations like Save the Children and Peepal Foundation. He got an exposure to Child Rights and Child Protection when he joined Action for Rights of Child (ARC - A forum of Child Rights Organization) as a coordinator. Then onwards he decided to work in the field of Child Rights and Protection.
When a child comes out of the Remand Home he is marked as a criminal for life. That is a tendency in society - people never let the child forget the crime he had committed in the past. Through the project he is associated with, Zaid makes it his mission to save these boys from such debilitating mindsets.
Zaid's father Sayyed Saeed Ahmed too is an active social worker and has been running the NGO Raabta Foundation for over two decades now. This was another reason for Zaid's association with social activities from his teenage years; an involvement that continues till today through his active support of Raabta Foundation’s activities. Being involved in social activities successfully at this age makes Zaid an inspiration for all youth.
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