February 27, 2012

Helping Street Children Take a Step Forward

The UN estimates that 18 million children live and work in the streets of India. It is believed that more than 250,000 of them are in the nation's capital city of Delhi. Thousands of immigrant families move to Delhi each year in search of employment and find themselves living in the streets. Their children grow up on the street having to fend for themselves, sometimes being abandoned or running away. Many of them make the platforms of the New Delhi and Old Delhi railway stations their home as it may be the place where they came into the city, or the constant comings and goings of people provide the opportunity for illegal activities. Few jobs are available to these children and many turn to a life of crime as the easiest way to sustain themselves during a time in their lives when they should be playing and going to school.

Ramesh Gupta was a runaway fending for himself in the streets of New Delhi when the law caught up to him. Luckily he was removed from police custody and admitted into the Salaam Baalak Trust where he was fed, educated, and sheltered to help prepare him for a productive adulthood. The Salaam Baalak Trust provides street children with a holistic network of services that help guide their physical, creative, cognitive and social development through schooling and various rehabilitation programs. In 2004, Ramesh partnered with a friend and started the Lakshya - Badte Kadam community initiative, or Goal - Step Forward, hoping to take what he learned and share it with his old community.

The primary goal of Lakshya is to rescue street children from the dark life of the railway stations and then to provide them with shelter, food, the opportunity of an education, and vocational training. They also administer social reform campaigns to help those children that for one reason or another continue to live in the streets. By playing games with them, teaching them to become productive members of society, and providing them with counseling services, the Lakshya community has grown to support more than 100 street children. Lakshya is creating a nurturing and safe environment for children filled with promising opportunities and a life of dignity.

Lakshya is a registered NGO, funded by the production of colorful and eco-friendly textiles. Rag-pickers are employed to collect pieces of recycled-cloth, newspapers, and chip bags from the streets while the older youth, and women in the surrounding community sew them into various apparel and fashion accessories. Our line of Lakshya products will include a courier-style shoulder bag, a gym bag, back pack, wallets, clutches, handmade paper journals, neem wood pencils, and more. We are happy to be a link in the chain of support for these children in need who find themselves struggling and alone on the streets of Delhi. This new line of products will be available for the spring season.


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