In New Delhi, I spent some time with the staff of the Dil Se Campaign (http://www.dilsecampaign.org), who work with street children.
They generously offered me their time which enabled me to work on a story and a photo essay about the subject which I will share with you at a later date.
It’s pointless to mention how moved I was by the stories of these street children, but also inspired by the relentless and selfless work of volunteers and staff members of this organisation.
Wherever I saw despair, I also saw hope.
Here are some of the photos.
There are about 100,000 homeless people in New Delhi. Half of them are children.
Parvin, 21, has been living on the streets most of her life.
Most children stick together in close groups that they call family. Some are orphans, some are abandoned. Some escape their homes for various reasons.
Young girls are particularly vulnerable, as they may be drawn to sex work when older. Without proper identification or guardianship, they also run the risk of being trafficked.
Some children are born into street life and will spend most of their lives in makeshift accommodation which are often removed/destroyed by authorities.
New Delhi is bitterly cold in the winters and most children live exposed to the elements.
They find games to pass the time, beg for food, but also find creative ways to earn a living, such as collecting recyclable trash and reselling it for a profit.
Field workers go into these areas and try to reach out to the children, offering them the opportunity to stay in their non custodial homes for boys and girls.
Poonam, a fieldworker with two young lads she hopes will decide to take up residence in their non-custodial homes.
It’s difficult to convince these independent children to leave the streets. Sometimes, begging means they earn a daily wage comparable to the fieldworker’s!
Fieldworkers from Dil Se Campaign are greeted by street children.
Kohinoor, on thee right, is 6 and has only known street life.
If the children decide to move into one of Dil Se’s homes, they are offered food, shelter, education and healthcare.
These are multi-faith homes, where inclusion takes centre stage.
A safe place to sleep.
And be playful!
The Dil Se Campaign also offers bridging courses for kids who often have never been to school.
Kilkari Home for girls
These young teenagers benefit from a safe environment where they can learn trades for a better chance at finding employment.
Volunteers, as well as staff guarantee the centre’s success.
During one of my visits, I met Ramzan, a former street child, who is now studying to become a social worker with Dil Se Campaign’s support.
For more information, please visit http://www.dilsecampaign.org