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 instills 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.
With the support of the donor, Arushi home is getting support for education, vocational and skill training and rehabilitation. The present report provides an overview of the above mentioned activities.
In the reporting period the girls at Arushi, have been actively pursuing education, vocational training and skill development, apart from extracurricular activities and life skills. Most of the girls in the home have acclimatized to the environment and have gelled well with each other and the staff members. The elder girls have successfully formulated their future career plans with the counsellor and they are actively adhering to these plans.
Education: Linking girls to education, set them on a path of intellectual development, school-based socialization and career preparation is a focal area for Arushi team. The effort is to first generate girls’ interest towards studies through non-formal education and once they feel they are ready, they are linked to formal education through regular and open schools. A key feature of the design of educational intervention at Arushi is that it is need-based and pliable as opposed to one fits all model. This remains a major reason behind successfully linking all children who come to the home to education. Additionally once the girls are enrolled in regular schools, they receive consistent support from qualified in-house teachers at Arushi. This helps them in keeping pace with the school curriculum.
In the reporting quarter, a total of 62 girls were linked to education. Of these 27 girls were linked to formal schools, while 26 girls were taught through non-formal methods and nine girls were enrolled in National Institute of Open School.
Food: Three hot cooked meals are provided to all the girls. Besides that the girls are provided evening nutrition to girls on daily basis and the team also work towards provision of healthy food and snacks as evening nutrition in donation.Special nutrition is provided to the children who are unwell. Most of the girls in the centre are growing normally with increments in height and weight as per recommended growth standards.
Health: Medical check-up of children is conducted two to three times a month.Medical investigation is done within 15 days of registration of a child in the centre and a health performa is regularly filled and maintained.Regular mental health and life skill sessions are taken at group and individual levels.In the reporting period through health check-ups of 80 girls was done.
Psychological Support: Every child has been covered under individual psychological sessions were conducted. Individual sessions helped children cope with daily stressors. Group sessions were also organised. These sessions encouraged girls to strengthen self-understanding and engage in introspection. The session helped children to share their ideas and thoughts and boosted their self-confidence.
Vocational Training and Skill Development: The overarching goal of vocational training and skill development is to prepare the girls for an independent adult life. It is recognised that even if the girls have minimum educational qualification to be eligible for jobs, their chances of being employed would increase if they have specific vocational or skill training. Towards this end, the girls who have turned 16 years or completed Class 10 are offered opportunities to join various vocational or skill development courses. The career counsellor at SBT helps to match girls’ interest and capacities to suitable courses to find a best fit. Accordingly, girls are enrolled in different courses.
In the reporting quarter, 23 girls were linked to vocational training courses. The popular choices for these courses was beauty culture, cookery and bakery.
Apart from this, both younger and elder girls who show inclination towards performing arts are linked to various skill development courses. Presently, girls have been enrolled in varied courses ranging from classical dancing, guitar playing to drawing.
Rehabilitation: The process of rehabilitation of girls begins when they are about turn 18 years old. This is the time when they are prepared to step out of the protective milieu of the children’s home and start a life of their own. The team conducts one to one sessions with the girls to prepare them for stepping out of the home and live on their own. Regular counselling sessions are also conducted by the counsellor. The girls are supported by the staff members to find a suitable accommodation and they are also provided utensils, gas stove and bedding to make a smooth transition to an unfurnished place. In this quarter, seven girls were rehabilitated.
Repatriation: The team put efforts to reunite girls with their families. In the reporting period, 38 girls were repatriated from March 1, 2017 to August 31, 2017 with due permission from CWC. The team established strong networking ties with all legal stakeholders.The team also organised quarterly stakeholder meetings to further strengthen these networks.
In the year 2017, the staff members are working towards preparing the supported girls for higher and vocational education and job placement. The staff members are assisting the girls in learning supplementary skills such as computers, English speaking and typing and also building their confidence to lead an independent life.