|Outreach No. 96 - Children in Especially Difficult Circumstances - Part 1: Working and Street Children (New York University - TVE - UNEP - WWF, 68 p.)|
Reprinted from It's Only Right! A Practical Guide to Learning About the Conventions on the Rights of the Child by Susan Fountain, produced by the Education for Development Section of UNICEF, New York, 1993. The story is based upon an article in The Times of India, 17 September 1990. If reproduced, please include the above acknowledgement
SUGGESTIONS FOR USE
radio broadcasters and journalists: As a successful project to include in a programme or article that is exploring ways that street children can gain dignified employment. It may also serve as an example to break down stereotypes that people have of street children,
teachers, street educators: As one approach to consider when exploring local opportunities for self-help projects.
Manoj ran away from home when he was five years old. At nine, he barely made a living by carrying goods through the streets. Nizam, aged 16, spent the past seven years unloading trucks. Gorakh, aged 14, recalls being beaten and forced to share his meagre earnings with older men. For these and other boys who live and work on the streets of New Delhi, India, a harsh life is being transformed by an organisation called 'Butterflies'.
'Butterflies' provides educational programmes and self-help projects for street children. The organisers believe that, since these children are already self-reliant, they must be helped to develop skills that will improve their ability to support themselves, rather than make them dependent upon charity.
During one of 'Butterflies' monthly meetings, the fact that street children spend almost three-quarters of the money they earn on food was discussed. The children thought that if they could open their own restaurant, they could support themselves and have the security of knowing they would always have nutritious food to eat.
With funds from the Netherlands office of the Caritas agency, 'Butterflies' was able to rent space in the Inter State Bus Terminus. Twelve boys between the ages of 7 and 17 then went through an intensive 10-day training on cooking, nutrition, cleanliness, looking after customers and book-keeping.
In 1990, the boys enthusiastically opened their restaurant. Fully aware of their monthly expenses for food and rent, the boys decided to take only half their salaries until they began making a profit. As one of them said, you can't expect to be an overnight success in this business, one has to bear losses for a while...and try very hard.
Now business is improving. Some of the boys have begun to learn Chinese cooking, having decided that more variety in their menus would improve business. Not only do they have reliable jobs, but they also have a place to live - a room behind the restaurant. And they are taking advantage of two hours of education per day, provided by 'Butterflies'.
The boys also decided to feed several other street children each day, free of charge. They dream of raising money to buy a van so that they can bring food they cook to parts of the city where there are large numbers of street children. They plan to finance this project by selling snacks in public places in the evenings.
Running a restaurant has not only given these children skills they will have for a lifetime. It has given them their first taste of control, accomplishment and pride.