“A ten-year-old boy is busy scrounging for bottles and plastics on the street. Though he feels scared about toxic emissions emanating from the dump yard, poverty forces him to stay on and collect whatever he can. Another youngster of about 16 years is also seen picking waste nearby. He left school since his family did not have enough money to feed everyone “
These two youngsters are not the only children who live like this. There are hundreds of thousands of children in Tamil Nadu forced to live in hazardous situations on the streets compelled by poverty, hunger and inequality. Most of them work on the streets or in the non-formal sector offering cheap labor.
We rescue them from the treacherous streets and care for them, providing them food, medical care and educational programs. Those who cannot be repatriated to their families we host in shelter homes or orphanages for girls and boys and educate them in our schools.
According to UNICEF, more than 10 million children in India live on the streets. Besides them, there are millions engaged in child labor – in fact, India has the largest child labor population in the world. Over 59 million children continue to have no access to quality education at school!
Almost 50 per cent of street children do child-work as rag-pickers, hawkers and or engaged in doing odd jobs in shops and establishments. These children on the streets are a highly vulnerable lot. They run the risk of ending up as victims of drug-addiction, human trafficking, crime and violence.
Impact of our projects:
Our staff and outreach workers search them out and rescue the vulnerable children — boys and girls doing child labour, those abused and exploited or have been thrown out by their homes. We shelter them, protect them and care for them in our shelter homes and orphanages, as per norms of the Child Welfare Committee (CWC). We seek to provide a loving and caring atmosphere and above all the warm feeling of security for those who have lived and lead an emotionally scared and materially insecure life in an atmosphere of distrust, betrayal and shattered house. We offer places for fun and games helping the children to gain confidence and self – esteem.
We provide them with adequate nutritional food and clean water, psycho-social support and medical treatment, educate and skill them in our schools, vocational training centers and colleges, thus helping them to recognize their own worth and rights and to stand on their own legs.
Through a special Slum Education Empowerment and Development program (SEED) we teach street children and youth basic numerical ability as well as reading and writing skills; we also run night study centers in various places throughout the Province of Chennai.
The Children are formed in every aspect of life – education, games, sports, arts, and character-building. Every effort is made to bring out the hidden talents and skills in each and every boy/ girl entrusted to us. They are also exposed to various awareness programs and trainings such as Children’s rights, and trainings related to Law and on Socio-political and Economic System. In some places we have introduced Children’sParliament.
In Chennai we implemented CHILDLINE 1098 for vulnerable children, 24 hours of the day, 365 days of the year. It is India’s first 24-hour, free, emergency phone service for children in need of aid and assistance. We respond to the emergency needs of children, link them to services for their long-term care and rehabilitation. Awareness campaigns on child sexual abuse are also organized from time to time.