Children are our present and tomorrow. They represent the future of the country, thus, investments in their survival, growth and development are imperative. India as a nation upholds the rights of children as they need care, protection and nurturing. The country also ratified the United Nations Convention of the Rights of Children (UNCRC), 1989 pledging commitment to protect fundamental rights of children to survival, life, development, protection and participation. In line with this vision, various policy and legislative steps have been taken to ensure well-being of children including, the National Policy for Children, 2013 and the National Plan of Action for Children, 2016, the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Protection Act, 2016 and launch of the Child Protection Services (earlier known as the Integrated Child Protection Services) among others.
Despite these progressive steps, many children in India still live in difficult circumstances such as runway and missing children, street children, child labourers and those with disabilities. To protect the rights of these children, Salaam Baalak Trust (SBT) began its interventions in Delhiand NCR more than 30 years ago. Since then, the Trust has been striving to provide equal opportunities to these children to enable themto grow and thrive and be at par with the children from so called privileged backgrounds.
Education, health, nutrition and vocational training and social reintegration are some of the critical services SBT provides to children rescued from difficult circumstances. SBT offers these critical services through its children’s homes and contact points (day-care centres). The children’s home of SBT are 24*7 residential centres. They form the central platform through which various services are offered to children. Arushi is one of the first children’s home for girls initiated by SBT. The Home provides inclusive care and protection services to girls rescued from streets and difficult circumstances.
Education at Arushi is viewed as a means to enable children realise their intellectual potential, develop social skills and prepare for vocational training and jobs. Linking children to formal education is one of the first steps to make children a part of mainstream society, where they interact, learn and compete with their peers. However, many girls at Arushi hail from impoverished and deprived families and some of them are victims of violence, emotional and psychological abuse. The difficult past of these girls leaves them vulnerable and emotional. They are most often deprived of their right to education and with little or no experience of formal schooling. Many of them are first generation learners.
In such a scenario, rekindling their spirit to learn and study, requires a sensitive and caring approach. Continuous handholding and individual attention, lies at the heart of this approach.The education programme at Arushi aims at providing girls academic support and services tailor-made to their individual needs. The different modes of education offered at the centre include formal schooling, non-formal education and open schooling. Teachers with the support of the volunteers take regular in-house classes for children.They play the role of parents, attending parent-teacher meets, and ensuring that the child is not discriminated in any way in school.
Active collaborations with multiple reputed schools, like Lawrence, Sanawar; Shiksha Bharti; Bharti Vidya Bhavan etc., provides the children with better opportunities and greater exposure. Children with special needs and learning disabilities are given support to blossom to their best abilities. Towards this end, SBT has networked with schools such as ORKIDS, Manovikas, and Amar Jyoti. SBT seeks support for running its on-going education programme.
Under the education programme at Arushi following services are provided:
Testimonials of Change
Meera (name changed) a 16 year old came to Arushi Children’s Home for Girls from a Christian NGO. Unaware of her family background and home town, Meera came to Arushi Home nervous and tensed. Initially, she remained sad and lonely. Amidst new people and new environment, Meera felt alienated and upset. She also had behavioural issues and had difficulty mingling with other children.
Given her difficult situation, the Arushi team focused on making Meera comfortable and helping her lead a normal life. To help Meera open up, the counsellor conducted regular sessions with her. The team involved her in various activities and extra-curricular sessions and took her for exposure visits around the city. These efforts bore fruit and Meera slowly came out of her shell. She seemed visibly happy and positive and began interacting with other children and Arushi team. Meera actively took part in different activities at the Home and voiced her concerns and thoughts.
While having a heart to heart conversation with a team member, she mentioned about her dream of securing a good job in a big company. The team motivated her to focus on studies. Meera began attending regular in-house classes and diligently studied. Even though Meera was enrolled in a school, she was having difficulties coping up with school curriculum. The team realised that Meera had remained out of school for a very long period of time and found it difficult to adjust to the classroom setting. Therefore instead of a regular school, Meera was enrolled in National Institute of Open Schooling. The strategy worked for her. While Meera is working hard to complete her studies, she is maximising the use of her time by interning at Google Cafeteria’s service section. She considers this as her first step towards realising her dream of working in a big company.
Meera is still a shy and quiet girl but she has certainly shed off her inhibitions. She has transformed herself into a cooperative and ambitious young girl and is determined to achieve her aspirations. Arushi team is sure that she will be successful in her life and emerge victorious.