Care&Share has been involved in the rescue and rehabilitation of
street children since 1995. We first began with supporting
Happy Home - a Home for street boys. In 1996 we set
up Sweet Home, our Rescue Home for boys. In November
1997 we set up Ginny’s Home – a Rescue home
for girls - and in March 1999 we started Toti’s
Home, our second Home for young girls. In May 1999,
we started building Daddy’s Home, a permanent
residence for destitute children. In 2005, we began construction at Butterfly Hill, our new campus for street children.
of millions of children live in the streets of cities
scattered all over the world. Their presence may be
noticed in developed as well as in developing countries,
but the majority live in the poor nations of Africa,
Asia, and Latin America. According to Unicef and the
World Health Organization (WHO), the steadily growing
number of street children worldwide could be comprised
between 100 and 150 million. India has the highest concentration.
is home to millions of indigent children. Many of them
live in neglect with families who cannot take care of
them. Millions more are forced into the work force at
the time they should be learning how to read. Millions
still live in the streets as a result of the loss of
their loved ones, the breakdown of their families, or
simply because they no longer could endure the abuses
inflicted upon them by parents, relatives, and employers.
In 1994, Unicef estimated that 11 million children lived
in the streets of India, while other groups put the
number as high as 18 million. While some children are
lured to the streets by the exciting prospect of being
completely free, most are driven there by despair. In
most cases, they simply have nowhere else to go.
end up at the train station, where some look for work
while others become vagabonds, criss-crossing the country
on its vast and intricate railway network. They live
miserably.They endure constant hunger and malnutrition,
which are often accompanied by scabies and dysentery.
On the streets, they may be found working a variety
of jobs: they sell food and drinks on trains and railway
platforms; they clean train compartments; they collect
plastic, aluminium, paper, and anything else they may
be able to resell; they serve as paperboys, shoeshiners,
dishwashers, or porters for hotels and local businesses;
they play music, juggle, or simply beg. Their lifestyle
exposes them to the many grave risks that derive from
their frequent involvement in drug trafficking, organ
trade, prostitution, pornography, and slavery.
Vijayawada, a 1989 report by Unicef estimated the number
of street children to be 19,800. Such figure includes
those who live in the streets or railway station, those
who are orphans and homeless, and those from the surrounding
slums who work/roam in the streets. The Forum for Child Rights estimates that an average
of 33 children arrive at the Vijayawada railway station
every day. The typical street kid is a male between
11 and 13 years of age; a majority of them hail from
other towns and villages within Andhra; most are Hindu
and belong to castes that the government designated
children are driven out of their homes by poverty and
abuse: ill treatment by parents, a step-father or step-mother
who is hostile to the child, a broken home, a father
who is out of work or who is an alcoholic or drug addict.
All these kids are attracted by the glamour of the town
- the big houses, cinema theatres, hotels and restaurants
- quite different from the fields and huts of the villages.
They flock to the town hoping to have a better life.
Once there, they easily pick up small jobs and their
initial earnings make them complacent. With a little
money in their pocket for a meal, a pack of cigarettes
and a movie, they feel like adults. But not for long.
Soon, they fall prey to middle men and gangs and are
often caught up in a life of crime and violence. Some
of them are deliberately maimed and mutilated.
kids are also constantly exposed to the elements - sun,
rain and cold. The streets are places of filth and dirt.
Sleeping on the roads and railway platforms with a newspaper
for a bed, eating at way-side stalls or leftovers from
the garbage bins of the hotels exposes them to all kinds
of infection and disease. They live amidst dirt, smoke
and other environmental hazards and hence are prone
to all kinds of illness. Their health is generally poor
and many suffer from chronic diseases like asthma, dysentery,
scabies, recurring malaria and typhoid. Many are suffering
from TB, STD, Hepatitis and AIDS. According to the United
Nations, one-half of Vijayawada’s street children
have a sexually transmitted disease or infection. If the situation of the boys is bad,
it is much worse for the girls. All of them are sexually
abused and if not rescued usually end up in a brothel.
They all have tales to tell of being beaten, drugged
and sold. Many girls we have rescued have been found
to be suffering from venereal diseases.
rescue and rehabilitation program serves the needs of
these children. They must be provided with a Home, food,
clothing and medical aid. They need a basic education
and some vocational training. The education and training
we give them aims to make them literate, to equip them
with some skills to find employment or to start work
on their own and thus make a livelihood for themselves.
Our objectives, nonetheless, go far beyond providing
the assistance that simply allows them to fight another
day. Our mission is to transform the lives of these
children, return them the ability to dream, provide
them with the means, the confidence, and the self-image
they need to fully realize their potential, and help
them bloom into healthy, self-reliant individuals. Once
their most basic needs are satisfied, their full rehabilitation
requires that we give them their childhood back.