Inspired by Mira Nair's film 'Salaam Bombay' in 1988, Salaam Baalak Trust (SBT) grew out of Nukkad – a street-based intervention programme that began working with street children in and around New Delhi Railway Station.
A sense of security – be it a safe sleeping place, a small cupboard to store their personal belongings, a somewhat set pattern to life (e.g. regulated timings for food, study, play, roll call and going to bed etc.) gives the children an environment to be creative and grow naturally, yet instils in them the idea of discipline and hard work to achieve their dreams. Once the sheer struggle for survival is over, only then can they begin to articulate and work towards their future.
Understanding their need for security, nutrition, and opportunities, SBT started a full-care residential program called Arushi children’s home in Gurgaon. This Home was specially designed to cater to all aspects of a child friendly home- ventilation, amphitheatre, open space around the building for playing, classrooms and dormitories. Arushi is an initiative to offer 24 hour shelter to girls between the ages of 5 years to 18 years living on the streets. The children Home consists of 56 beds for children in 4 dormitories. Each dormitory has 14 beds. Each dormitory is attached with toilet and bathroom. There is kitchen and dining space. There is a medical Van for children in need of medical service.
Arushi children’s home offers girls a comprehensive package of services including education, vocational training, skill development and extra-curricular activities. A crucial component of extra-curricular activities forms tours and trips with in and out of the state. Under SBT’s purview of work, these trips are carefully planned as they mean much more than mere exposure visits. The trips serve as a platform for girls rescued from streets to shed their inhibitions, mingle with each other and the staff members and take a fresh look at life leaving behind the past.
Girls at a famous temple at Panchmarhi
In this sense, the trips have an emotionally recuperative effect on girls which at times is life changing. Many girls upon going for such trips have shared that they were able to connect with other children of their age who have gone through a similar pain in the past. They found a family in these children and agreed to give themselves another chance.
Very often, staff members have also observed that children who did not open up or were aggressive had a change of heart once they came back from a trip after spending a lot of time with other girls. As evident, tours and trips at SBT serve a dual purpose of educating the children about the world around and strengthening them emotionally and psychologically. Annual tour, thus, forms an integral part of services provided at Arushi home for holistic development of children. The purpose and goal of the tour is essentially to create awareness among girls and help them gain new perspective about the outside world and bring them closer to each other and the staff members. Girls also get chance to visit places they never been before.
Annual Tour Update
This year the girls went for an annual trip to Panchmarhi, Madhya Pradesh was organized in June, 2018. Around 45 girls and five staff members went for the trip with the permission of Child Welfare committee. The key rationale behind this trip is to enable girls know more about new places, about each other, to develop the culture of sharing and trust.
The girls stayed in Chunmun Cottages with a picturesque scenery surrounding them. To ensure that the all the activities planned during the visit rolled out on time, girls formed discipline committees. In the cottages indoor activities were planned to encourage the team spirit among the girls
On day one the girls settled down, played indoor games such as badminton, Ludo and got an opportunity to build closer bonds with their housemates and staff members. The next day girls went for a visit to “Jata shankar Mahadev“ temple. The visit helped girls learn about culture and religious prominence of the temple.
Girls Bonding with Each Other
On next day girls were taken to Pandava caves. The girls were mesmerised to see these ancient and historical caves. They learnt about legends pertaining to Mahabharta period associated with these caves.
To emphasise the importance of physical activity and good health, the girls were encouraged to for trekking. The girls woke up early and took up trekking as a physical challenge. Most of them loved trekking and enjoyed walking amidst the nature. On the last day of the trip, the girls went to see beautiful water falls at Dhupgarh and Reechh Garh.
The trip brought girls closer to the nature and history. They learnt a lot during the trip. The trip brought visible changes in terms of strong bonds between the girls and staff, enhanced knowledge about the new places, environment and flora and fauna in particular.
In view of the expected outcomes, it can be said that the tour was extremely successful. The tour met three objectives. These were,
- Exposing girls to nature and flora and fauna and inculcate a sense of environment conservation among them
- Strengthening their rapport with each other and staff members