This important project aims to protect street and working children in Pondicherry and reintegrate them into mainstream society. During 2011 this project reached over 500 children.
Drop in Centre (DIC)
Aimed at providing a safe, non-judgmental and caring place to which street and vulnerable children can come to escape the dangers and monotony of the street, the DIC has provided basic care and facilities to 147 children including healthcare, literacy classes, art and recreational activities to stimulate their minds and provide emotional care and support in dealing with the hardships of street living.
Six outreach workers operate within the community, each responsible for a different area of the city. The backbone of Kalki’s activities, the Outreach team worked with 367 children in establishing trusting relationships with children, enabling social workers to consult with individual children in developing plans for their future with short and long-term goals. These development plans are the basis for monitoring the progress of the child.
Throughout the year, the Mobile Library Programme provided recreational activities and informal education to 313 street and working children and children at risk by visiting seven areas with high concentrations of street and working children. It is equipped with educational materials and games, arts materials, sports equipment. The Mobile Library has been supported by local and overseas volunteers and is one of the most cost-effective programmes, with high impact and low costs.
Early Childhood Care (ECC)
One of the first programmes established by Kalki in Pondicherry, this ECC programme provides day-care facilities for babies and children under six years of age, who would otherwise be left alone on the streets, while parents go out to work. I n the past year, the ECC supported 106 children from street-living families. The outreach team identifies babies and young children left at risk on the streets and encourages the families to enrol the children in the programme. This programme has effectively removed vulnerable children from the street and provided them with care and protection.
Adolescent Girls Programme
The Programme for Adolescent Girls aims at ending the cycle of female discrimination, providing empowerment to adolescent girls by developing their self-confidence and self-awareness, facilitating their access to local services and resources. The programme reached a total of 166 girls, placing 96 girls (including 31 young mothers) into secure jobs after successful completion of training; and referring 35 girls to training courses, providing support to a total of 43 young mothers.
Kalki’s night shelter provides 24/7 shelter and protection for children most at risk of abuse and exploitation. Many of these children have been neglected or abused by their families or have been abandoned. The shelter represents an emergency, short-term solution to these threats, immediately removing the children from these dangers and offering them a safe, caring and stable environment from which they can return to school while long-term development plans are tailored with social workers. The shelter is located about 10km out of Pondicherry in 1.5 acres of farmland where the children are free to play in a clean and healthy space. In 2011 the Shelter offered protection to a total of 64 boys and girls, ranging from 18 months to 16 years, for one or more than one night.
Children of school going age are taken to school each day and helped with their homework in the evenings. Younger children are cared for in Kalki’s Early Childhood Care Programme during the day. During the weekends the children are engaged in arts, sports and recreational activities. They are also encouraged to help with housework to develop their sense of responsibility.
Social workers meet regularly with the children to discuss any concerns they may have. Since the Shelter is not a long-term residential institution, family reintegration is a core aspect of the work. Initially families are encouraged to see their children at weekends under monitored conditions and reasons for their disconnection and underlying issues are explored; if safe and appropriate, children are reintegrated back into their families. Alternative long-term living solutions are employed for those children for whom family reintegration is not an option.
Placing itself as a ‘transitional’ organisation, Kalki’s main objective remains to work with families and children so that they can be reintegrated once problems have been resolved. 14 children (10 boys and four girls) were reintegrated with their families and are being followed up on a regular basis. In the case of 12 children, family reintegration was not an option and Kalki has referred the children to partner organisations who specialise in long-term care. Additionally, Kalki helped enrol 41 children into schools.