12th April is the International Day for Street Children. The day aims to raise awareness of street children worldwide. As ChildHope join celebrations across the globe involving street children, students, politicians, NGOs and businesses, and as we add our voice to the call to change policies and practices, we also celebrate the nomination of our partner in India The Concerned for Working Children (CWC) for the Nobel Prize Prize in recognition of its work with street and working children!
ChildHope and our partners work to realise the rights of street children around the world. In India, our partner CWC, has been involved with street children in the city of Bangalore, Karnataka for several years. We are delighted that their impressive work with street and working children has lead to their recent nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize. The nomination recognises CWC's focused approach of putting children's rights and participation at the centre of all its actions. ChildHope would like to congratulate CWC on this nomination and wish them success in the award.
With their typical focus on children's voices, CWC said of their nomination:
"The credit goes to our primary constituency and partners - working children - and the many battles they have fought in numerous forums at home and around the world for their voices to be heard."
Street children in IndiaMany children and families live and work on the streets of Bangalore. In response, several high profile 'rescue' operations or raids by NGOs and government officials take place to take children out of the streets. These raids are counter-productive and can be deeply criminalising for the street and other marginalised children involved. The children that are picked up may languish in poorly served governmental institutions or are displaced back to their villages of origin, even though their entire families may still be living in the city.
Without strong roots, street and working children in Bangalore are highly mobile and this makes NGO's work challenging as it makes it difficult to build a rapport with the children and their families or to sustain long-term programmes. Organisations like CWC must look for creative solutions if they are to really reach the children who need their support the most.
Children as the main solutionCWC puts children's rights at the centre of all its actions and intentions and encourages children to identify the issues they face and come up with solutions to their problems. Street children are supported to hold the responsible bodies accountable to achieve fundamental improvements in their living conditions. This enables them to gain new knowledge, skills and self-confidence.
Children play the main role in resolving the issues of living and working on the streets. They know their situation better than anyone else and know what needs to be done. For instance, in one settlement of Bangalore, CWC spoke with children and asked them to identify issues that reduced their safety. The lack of street lights emerged as a critical issue, which the children then took up with their local elected representative. They submitted memorandums and lobbied with their representative to ensure that the light poles were erected and connected to the electricity grid.
Agents of ChangeCWC adopts processes that empower street children and their families to become agents of their own change through:
- including children as part of all decision-making processes that concern their lives;
- creating environments where children feel safe physically, emotionally and intellectually;
- empowering children to access, analyse and use information to protect their rights;
- creating structures where children can interact with adult decision-makers from positions of strength;
- sensitising adults to 'listen' to children.
"Children who are members of organisations do not feel shy or hesitant to talk to adults officials, senior members of the community, etc. Because of this they are able to solve many of their problems as well as the problems of the community."They are eager to contribute to the positive change of their communities and know that they have the ability to do so.
ChildHope is proud to be a member of the Consortium for Street Children (CSC). The CSC helped founded the International Day for Street Children in 2011. After the first international day, a report was commissioned by the UN on street children and was presented to the Human Rights Council to improve the situation of street children. ChildHope is proud to be part of the movement to celebrate champions and call to change policies and practices.