Owing to rampant migration from the hinterlands, India’s street children population is growing steadily in urban areas. And urban India’s population is soaring, thereby increasing the number of at-risk children in slums. 27.4 percent children (between the ages of 7-18) live in slums, yet they lack access to infrastructure. For example, only 17 percent of Indian schools set up base in these areas. It is only awareness and intervention by NGOs and aid workers that can translate into actual change. Here is how you can add to the change needed to give these children the possibility of a better life
1. Talk to them in a positive tone, and inquire about their well-being
While street children are taught to only communicate while begging and thus expect a brusque refusal, you can give them a kind voice by asking them their name, background and other particulars. But don’t give them food or alms – instead donate online to organised child welfare initiatives like the campaigns run by India’s most trusted child rights NGO, Save the Children. Their personal details can be used to introduce them to a benevolent NGO system which will seek to give them nutrition, health, and healing.
2. If the child looks distressed then report to local Child Welfare Committee or police
Using the rapport you have built with the child, you can inquire about how their parents or caretakers are treating them. If the child mentions abuse, or shows signs (include violence, drug addiction, or malnutrition), you should immediately report him to the relevant authorities. These include the local Child Welfare Committee or the police.
3. Volunteer at a Centre for street children
After money, your time is the most valuable resource you can gift these children. Save the Children runs centres in Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai to provide these children education, relaxation, psycho-social support and counselling. For example, in Mumbai (home to a very large number of street and slum children), Save the Children takes learning directly to India’s marginalised children via a ‘Ride to School’ programme, using a Mobile Learning Centre (MLC) to give them the experience of a classic school environment – benches, blackboard, a library, games, and a TV-DVD player. This is an attractive proposition to motivate them to leave behind their life on streets.
4. Donate to charity and do fundraising for NGOs
Donating is the easiest, and fastest act of support you can participate in. The equivalent of a cup of coffee or the next movie you’re watching can go towards giving a child a better future. And, you can also sign up and be a part of an NGO’s various fundraising initiatives – either on social media, or in on-ground activities at malls, kiosks, and public places.
5. Campaign for NGOs
It is the ordinary people who are seen as the most sincere voices of children and their needs. Through social media, as well as by reaching out to people in your network, you can drive awareness of NGO campaigns, their goals, etc.
Due to the increasing number of urban street children, the incidence of crimes like trafficking and kidnapping increases. It is fuelled by a disruption in schooling and lack of parental care. Presence of Indian and international NGOs is essential in such a scenario, working with local authorities to ensure that these children don’t find themselves trapped in substance abuse or victims of abuse and exploitation. Without the knowledge of their rights, they experience torture, harassment and even sexual abuse. You can give a precious few minutes of your time, and work with Save the Children to make a difference. The NGO ranks among an illustrious list of organisations which have shown commitment to making a difference to lakhs of underprivileged children.