Salaam Baalak, Delhi
The Salaam Baalak Trust (SBT) is a grassroots NGO which provides a sensitive and caring environment to street and working children in Delhi. It has been visited recently by both Gordon and Arjun.
The Trust arose from the success of the film Salaam Bombay which revealed the dark underbelly of Mumbai’s streets, where a combination of economic pressures, political circumstances and the struggle for survival, created a large population of children, living and working on the streets.
All across the country, street children, an invisible section of society, continue to struggle. In the day time, children grapple with the challenges of street life.
When night falls, they curl up in crevices – at the end of the platform, under a staircase, in the subway – trying to find somewhere safe.
The SBT provides support services for over 8,500 children a year in Delhi & the NCR (National Capital Region) region through 25 centres.
It has has six full care residential centres: Aasra, Apna Ghar, DMRC Childrens Home and Old Delhi Railway Station for boys; Aarushi and Udaan Rose for girls. Four are geared to children needing long-term residential support and two for short stays.
It also has Contact Points (CPs), which are day centres following the principle ‘the earlier the better’. They are located at railway stations and crowded places, and act as primary links to identify vulnerable children as soon as they arrive in the city. Contact Points not only work with children ‘of the streets’ but also with children who are ‘on the streets’ – living on streets with their families, and surviving by begging or ragpicking.
Using various performing arts, the SBT has successfully instilled a sense of self-confidence and dignity, into the lives of children. For many, performance provides an avenue for them to express themselves. There are numerous stories of children responding to the arts, including wishing to go back home, abandoning drugs, making friends, getting encouraged to discuss their lives, finding their homes, and most of the times, themselves.
The SBT provides opportunities for volunteering, in a variety of situations, and has a UK group of ex-volunteers Friends of Salaam Baalak Trust. If you’re interested in following this up, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.