They have new home — DL1 PA 791

PatientsPatients and families on the bus near AIIMS on Tuesday night. The mother of a cancer patient (below) outside the bus. (Oinam Anand)

Five-year-old Sonu Kumar Giri is undergoing chemotherapy at AIIMS for eye cancer. His father Sadanand is a labourer in Jharkhand. In the last three months since Sonu's chemotherapy started, his family has been made at least three trips from Jharkhand to AIIMS and back so that Sadanand would get at least a week's work back home.

On Tuesday, for the first time since Sonu's treatment started, he and his parents slept with a roof over their heads — their address, DL1 PA 791, an old diesel bus, abandoned after the compulsory shift to CNG for public transport vehicles.

Since Sunday, two such buses have been placed near the AIIMS Metro station gate to operate as night shelters.

These "bus" shelters are being run by an NGO for the Delhi Urban Shelter Improvement Board (DUSIB). The two buses have been converted into night shelters, complete with blankets and mattresses, a DUSIB official said. He said many more such abandoned buses will be converted into shelters.

After a lukewarm response on Sunday, Monday night saw 25 people on board the first bus and 29 on the second.

Most of them were patients being treated at the AIIMS OPD. There were many children and families. Sonu and his family were late in queuing up to get a spot on the buses on Monday evening. So Tuesday, they decided to be the first ones in queue.

Sonu's chemotherapy sessions are done on a daycare basis, for four consecutive days. Hence, he has to stay near the hospital.

"I don't mind sleeping out on my own, but the last few days have been extremely cold, and my son shivers after his chemotherapy sessions and vomits. Sleeping in the open in such a condition has been a nightmare," Sadanand says.

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