Posted online: Sunday , June 01, 2008 at 10:05:01
A health and day centre for children comes up near Jama Masjid
The street children of old Delhi now have a place to go to. Jamghat, a Delhi based organisation, in partnership with Max India Foundation, has set up a health and day care centre at Jama Masjid to provide street children with a clean and safe shelter and recreational activities.
Jamghat, which works for the welfare of street children, was co-founded by theatre artists Amit Sinha and Lokesh Jain in 2003. “Prince Charles was visiting Delhi and we had organised a play for him. Whatever money we made out of that performance, we spent on providing street children with recreational facilities, vocational training, food and education,” says Sinha.
The theme of the play was street children of India—14 actors in it were street children. The initial idea was to support these children for about six months and create awareness in the country about social issues. However, the boys were having so much fun that they told Sinha they didn’t want to leave. “We then realised that the only thing these children were lacking was opportunity. It was then that we decided to support them and provide them with vocational training so that they could get jobs in the real world,” says Sinha.
What followed was a number of other plays, in which college students performed. Jamghat also makes handicraft items, such as bags and photo frames, to help raise money for the children.
“After we made enough money, we set up a shelter in Lado Sarai in which we provided 15 street children with food, education and vocational training,” says Sinha. In 2004, some of the boys at Jamghat were selected under a Pakistan exchange programme to interact with children in Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad. Finally, in 2006 the group decided to register themselves as an NGO. “Now, most of our children go to different government and public schools. One of our children is even studying at Mother’s International school,” he says proudly.
The Jama Masjid Centre provides shelter to 50 street children. The aim is to provide a healthy and learning environment to the children. “Once they grow older, we help them move out and get jobs in the real world,” Sinha says. About 35 children have managed to get jobs, some even in five-star hotels. While some are working in factories and city shops, others prefer to go back to their hometown and work there.
Sinha wants to open many more centres for such children but says that lack of funds are stopping him from doing so. “We are now looking for people or organisations that can help us make life better for these children,” he says.