: : Varsha Adusumilli : :
India has over 18 millions kids living on the streets, homeless. Out of this Mumbai alone hosts 2.5 lakh kids. Poverty, natural calamities, abuse and neglect by step-parents are the main reasons that bring these kids on streets. A typical street kid is under-nourished, shelter less, lives in ruthless conditions. Most of the times, they take to drugs or are forced into prostitution.
Various NGOs have been working in Mumbai to better the conditions of this section, most notable of them being Shelter Don Bosco which is an open house for street children.
Shelter Don Bosco was started in the year 1987 as a place for the street kids to buy cheap meals. Today it houses more than 250 children. Though these boys are sent to vocational training schools, it is tough for them to stick to a job as they are used to the freedom their rough lives offer early.
Fifty percent of the kids go back to live on the streets. “Drug addiction among these kids is a major problem,” says William, head of the shelter. He says though they manage to get funds for infrastructure and overhead costs, it is very tough to find sponsors for bigger projects.
He also points out the importance of life skills training for these kids, enabling them to lead a meaningful life. But he has been struggling to find committed volunteers and donors who can support the larger cause.
They organize regular career fairs, counselling sessions and medical check-ups for the kids. But none of these efforts will materialize into meaningful results if the kids don’t appreciate any of it. Despite the severity of the issue, Shelter Don Bosco doesn’t receive any kind of support or grant from the Government.
These shelter-less 18 million kids form a significant part in the way India will shape. Before the issue becomes too difficult to handle, we need to come up with innovative ways to engage interested individuals, organizations and donors to support this cause.
Visit Shelter Don Bosco website for further details.
 UN High Comissioner for Human Rights, India