Objectives of the project
To provide integrated community based non-institutional services for the care and education of street children facing destitution, neglect, abuse and exploitation and rehabilitate the children.
Facilities Provided: The Drop-in-Centre
The Place: The Drop-in center is situated at Belgium Square, about half a kilometer from the Surat Railway and Bus station. It is open 24 hours a day and caters to the needs of runaway children. Besides food, clothing & shelter, they have a place to bathe, have some rest and watch TV. It also provides indoor games. The Center provides them with metal boxes and locks to keep their belongings. In the Centre lunch is provided to the children, paid partially by them. Free medical services are also available. Three persons run the drop-in-centre.
Activities. The Centre provides shelter, care, protection, food, health, and counselling: the closest to what they really need, i.e. a home.
Facilities/Services offered at the Drop-in Center:
The Railway station is a fertile ground for developing vices such as stealing, cheating, pick-pocketing, fighting, smoking, chewing pan- masala, inhaling white-ink, drinking cheap chemicals like turpentine, etc. Newcomers fall easily prey to anti-social elements deprived as they are of any support – a support that our project tries to provide.
Presence: The basic component of our Project is to be present. Our staff goes to the railway and bus stations and contacts these newcomers offering them the services of the Drop-in-Centre. In their visits they also contact the railway and other authorities, explaining our work and asking for their help. They also contact the concerned police officers to explain to them the difficulties of the street children, and how we try to come to their help. Finally they contact those working in the station like porters and tea stalls. Through them it is easy to find out new street children.
Counseling: Street children need psychological help: past hurts, present insecurity, low self-esteem due to the contempt with which they are treated, conflicts and difficulties at home that have led them to run away – all these need attention. Our staff is trained to listen to the street children and to help them in their difficulties. Listening to the stories of the street children helps to prepare case studies that are very helpful to understand newcomers.
Individual counseling sessions are held for children on a regular basis. This exercise helps the staff to know every child personally and help them overcome their problems and inculcate good values. One of the major objectives/purposes of the regular counseling is to create greater desire amongst the children to give up loitering around railway stations, develop contact with their homes and help them reunite with their respective families.
Every month a group meeting is organized by our staff for the children. The latter explain to the former their needs and expectations and become actively involved in the running of the house.
Cultural Activities: Our children come from various places and different backgrounds. Knowing and appreciating the diversity of backgrounds helps the Centre to organize cultural activities and to celebrate better various festivals such as Raksha Bandan, Dewali, Kite day, Holi, Christmas etc. Celebration of festivals not only brings cheer and joy to the children but also helps them to know, respect and appreciate each other’s culture, tradition, customs and religion. These celebrations help to broaden their outlook and to become more understanding.
These celebrations are a good occasion to invite the authorities of Surat railway station. We also invite leading personalities and groups of citizens to interact with these children. This interaction is mutually advantageous: it creates awareness among the well-to-do and it touches the hearts of some of them who then come to the help of street children with material help such as towels, bed sheets, blankets, T-shirts, snacks, sweets etc.
Rehabilitation: Home is the best place for any child to grow and, therefore, wherever possible, our aim is the reunification of the child with his or her family and community. Our staff spends considerable amount of time with each child to know him very closely. Initially, they do not trust us and are very reluctant to reveal their home address, contact number, reasons for running away from the family, etc. Once befriended, they gradually open up and share their life- stories. When mutual trust is established it is easy to persuade them to rejoin their families. Then all that we to do is to contact their family and call them to our centre: they then take custody of their children. It is always very touching to take part in this reunion.