Unfortunately, in many districts of Calcutta policemen are more of threat to the street children as they often mistreat them or try to remove them following the orders of more wealthy residents.
Since 1999 Aloka Mitra, the head of our partner organisation, is supervising pilot projects in Calcutta’s police stations. The police place rooms at our disposal, often a garage, and help motivate the children into going to school. Women’s Interlink Foundation finances the school materials, the food, the social workers and the teachers. The Lion’s Club of Calcutta is responsible for the medical treatment of the children. These projects aim to send the children from a “non-formal-school” to a proper state run school. The children already attending a state school still come to our centres and are supported.
Fortunately, within our police projects the attitude of the policemen towards the street children has changed completely and they now agree that only education and care will prevent them from becoming criminals or drug-addicts and consequently becoming a much bigger problem for Indian society. Recently, a complete and surprising turnaround has seen the police come to regard themselves as protectors of the children.
Street children are the most vulnerable children of Calcutta. They are sleeping on the pavements, next to the canalisation, in all of Calcutta’s dirt. Car’s exhaust fumes, in this vast city of 15 million inhabitants, are blown directly into their faces. They are fighting to survive every day: On the one hand against starvation, by doing different menial jobs, for example collecting garbage, begging, selling drugs or working in wealthier households. On the other hand there is always the threat of getting involved in child human trafficking. Street children, in particular, are easily caught for organ trading, prostitution, slave work in bigger companies or organised begging circles.
The teacher of the center, Runa Nath, states that even though the circumstances in the slum are still really rough, some things have changed in a positive way. Now even the older children and teenagers go to school resulting in the number of child marriages decreasing in recent years. Due to the lessons in hygiene people have learned to store their food in better jars and containers so that less food has to be thrown away. The children arrive at our center clean, because they have learned about the importance of personal hygiene and that is also the reason why the children are not sick as often.
13 Centres with 30 children each: 2.098.700Rs (approx. 26.906€)