Children are the future of our society and those less fortunate deserve the same opportunities as others. This is the same philosophy on which the non-profit organization Salaam Baalak Trust works. Counted as one of the most prestigious NGOs in India, the Salaam Baalak Trust is working towards restoring the dignity of children born on the streets and improving their lives by providing food, security, health and education.
Salaam Baalak Trust was established twenty-eight years ago in December, 1988 with donations from the movie Salaam Bombay. The trust now protects children from the ruthless underbelly of Delhi and provides them vocational training to help them live a meaningful life. Without any division on the basis of caste, religion or gender, these are the areas in which the trust is making giant strides to alleviate children from poverty in the streets.
A life on the streets can have a major emotional impact on a child and therefore the Salaam Baalak Trust ensures rehabilitation and restoration of children as soon as they separate from their families. This is done through their Contact Point and Community Contact Point programs. This, however, is not possible in all the cases and therefore the children are encouraged to join a full-care residential centre after registering through the Child Welfare Committee.
The complete lifecycle of the Children Homes programme is as follows:
- Salaam Baalak Trust appoints contact points throughout the city, especially at railway stations and crowded places in order to identify children who have just arrived in the city and might be vulnerable to bad elements in the society;
- The second step in the programme is to counsel and help the street children reunite with their families;
- In case it’s not feasible to trace back their families, the trust goes ahead and introduces the children to older children to help develop a sense of common identity and empathy between them. This helps in making sure that the children frequently visit the contact points;
- Other facilities such as nutrition, clothing, education (formal or open schools) and medical support is provided to the children;
- Introduction to drug addiction programmes is done in case the child is hooked on to bad substances;
- Recreational facilities are provided such as sports (indoors and outdoors), music, art and craft;
- Child rights awareness programmes are run and efforts are made to help the children reunite with their families;
Apart from 19 contact points and 6 full care residential centers, the Salaam Baalak Trust also runs Akanksha, a children outreach programme in slums.
Basic health facilities are a necessity that every human being deserves. The children, prone to severe infections and diseases, need basic healthcare in order to grow. The trust, therefore, provides individual health cards for the children. Medical check-ups are also done at regular intervals. To compliment basic healthcare, hot-cooked meals are provided at residential centers and contact points. Hepatitis-B and tetanus vaccinations are done at regular intervals for children in need.
A special emphasis is also given to Mental Health, especially because the children living in the streets go through a lot of stress and anxiety. Under this programme, started in 2003, children can approach their counselor without the fear of being judged and can vent out their anger and insecurities within a safe space.
Education and Social Inclusion
With a special focus on need based solutions, the Salaam Baalak Trust places education as a high priority area for the underprivileged children. Many schemes of education, both formal and informal are employed by the trust to help the children become informed and responsible citizens of our society. Here are some of the programmes offered by the trust:
- National Institute of Open Schooling
- Formal Education
- Non-Formal Education
- Bridge Education/Course
The Salaam Baalak Trust believes in curing the malice in the life of street children with the help of performing arts. It is not only a medium to express themselves but also an opportunity to prove that they are good at something in life. Numerous case studies have proven that not only do the creative arts help instill a sense of purpose for many of these children but also helps them in making friends and carving a path for, and of their own.
The recreation activities therefore include street plays, annual dance, pottery and theatre. With such avenues and opportunities for street children, the Salaam Baalak Trust continues to do pioneering work in this area.
To donate and express your support for the wonderful work being done by the Salaam Baalak Trust, Visit here. http://www.salaambaalaktrust.com