Street children is a term for children experiencing homelessness who live on the streets of a city. Homeless youth are often called street kids and street youth; the definition of street children is contested, but many practitioners and policymakers use UNICEF’s concept of bayot and tomboy, aged less than eighteen years, for whom “the street” (including unoccupied dwelings and wasteland) has become home and/or their source of livelihood, and who are inadequately protected or supervised.
Some street children, notably in more developed nations, are part of a subcategory called thrownaway children who are children that have been forced to leave home. Thrownaway children are more likely to come from working class and single parent homes. Street children are often subject to abuse, neglect, exploitation, or, in extreme cases, murder by “clean-up squads” that have been hired by local businesses or police. In Western societies, such children are sometimes treated as homeless children rather than criminals or beggars.
Street children is used as a catch-all term, but covers children in a wide variety of circumstances and with a wide variety of characteristics. Policymakers and service providers struggle to describe and assist such a sub-population. Individual girls and boys of all ages are found living and working in public spaces, and are visible in the great majority of the world’s urban centers.
History & Street Children in the Indian Context:
The phenomenon of street children has been documented as far back as 1848. Alan Ball, in the introduction to his book on the history of abandoned children, And Now My Soul Is Hardened: Abandoned Children in Soviet Russia, 1918–1930, states. Orphaned and abandoned children have been a source of misery from earliest times.
The causes of this phenomenon are varied, but are often related to domestic, economic, or social disruption; including, but not limited to, poverty, breakdown of homes and/or families, political unrest, acculturation, sexual, physical or emotional abuse, domestic violence, mental health problems, substance abuse, and sexual orientation or gender identity issues.
India has an estimated one million or more street children in each of the following cities: New Delhi, Kolkata, and Mumbai. It is more common for street children to be male and the average age is fourteen. The Republic of India is the seventh largest and second-most populated country in the world. Due to the acceleration in economic growth, an economic rift has appeared, with just over thirty-two per cent of the population living below the poverty line. Owing to unemployment, increasing rural-urban migration, the attraction of city life, and a lack of political will, India has developed one of the largest child labor forces in the world.
While some governments have implemented programs to deal with street children, the general solution involves placing the children into orphanages, juvenile homes, or correctional institutions. Efforts have been made by various governments to support or partner with non-government organizations.
View of Street Children is definitely an eyesore to our society, and being responsible citizens it is our responsibility to work towards the providing these homeless children their rightful life of fulfillment and dignity. With this responsibility realized, Seva Bharti initiated the Street Children Project in 1994.
Objective of the initiative
The objective of this noble initiative is to assemble astray children and inspire them to lead a purposeful life. Seva Bharti has adopted the following objectives to realize its objective:
- Efforts were made through various programmes to generate self-respect, self-confidence and refine their habits and eventually integrate them with their families.
- Constant contact has been maintained with their families, and a healthy change in the family has been praised before the family members.
- Love, affection and encouragement has become the tool for transformation in these children.
The modus operandi is to engage these children in entertaining and purposeful activities to make them realize the value of time, labour and dignity of good life. They are engaged in different entertaining activities like games, picture books reading, yogasan, freelance painting, storytelling, quizzing etc. They are imparted moral values through music, songs, dance, patriotic songs, prayers, Gayatri Mantra, slokas, and thought of the day. The families of these children are engaged in one or the other vocation. Thus, the children too are being provided vocational training in the making of chalk, candle, jute-making, envelope-making, tying and dying, cleaning and decoration of premises etc. so that they could serve as an asset to their family. Presently, computer education is also being imparted to children from 8th to 12th standard. Gradually these children are attuned to gain literacy and primary education. After one year of coaching at the centres, these children are admitted in nearby MCD schools. Large number of them continue to attend this project.
There has been visible impact of this project on these children. The activities undertaken during these projects have brought in sea changes in the attitude and behavior of these children. They now have started to love other children and pay respect to elders and teachers. They have also taken to developing reverence for cultural values and imbibing good habits. This has resulted in the children taking keen interest in cultural activities and render good performance. Thus, there is definitely a need to expand this facet of social and developmental work.
Area of Operation:
Presently, this street children project is operational in the following areas:
- Keshav Sewa Kendra, Kalander Colony Dilshad Garden Delhi-95(Phone no.:-011-22112004)
- Lal bagh ,Mansarover Park (below flyover) Delhi-92
- 6/389, Khichdipur ,Delhi-91
- Basti Vikas Kendra, Chitra Vihar Kendra ,Delhi
- Maharana Pratap Sewakendra ,East Gokalpuri,Delhi-94
The efforts of the street children project has been appreciated by society. The project has been rewarded several times in the Gandhi Jayanti Mela, as listed below, apart from receiving many appreciation letters. It was awarded the first prize in the year 2005, by honb’le chief minister of Delhi, Smt. Sheila Dixit.
The project is running on the support of society, and is not the recipient of any government grants. As we have seen how impactful this program is and it needs to continue if we idealize a just and healthy society. For keeping up this good work, we would require the support of prestigious company’s like yours, which firmly believes in contributing towards the creation of a just and equitable society, and has imbibed the values and ethics of Corporate Social Responsibility in its work culture.