India’s street kids making it happen


Cii Radio| Ayesha Ismail| 07 September 2016| 05 Zhul Hijjah 1437

Sexual abuse, torture, drug addiction, harassment at the hands of thugs and policemen sums up life of street children in India. Delhi’s Balaknama newspaper – the Voice of Children, which is run by the street children, has been working to highlight the plight of fellow youngsters.

The editor of Balaknama, 17-year-old Shambhu, washes cars during the day for a living. “This newspaper is our voice to tell people, about what we go through and that even our lives matter,” Shambhu tells Al Jazeera. “People usually don’t care about street children. Whether they are beaten up, raped or even disappear, it hardly creates a flutter.”

The newspaper has four main reporters and 64 news gatherers who go around collecting the stories. They are known as “Baatooni” – the talkative ones. Unable to write their own copies, the Baatooni relate the stories to the main reporters who put them in writing for the issue.

The bilingual newspaper is the size of a tabloid with 5,000 copies published in Hindi and 3,000 in English. An NGO called Chetna funds the printing of the newspaper.

“Whatever goes into publishing is our brainchild and editorial is fully independent,” Shambhu says, adding that the that the NGO only plays a financial role.

Most of the children associated with Balaknama are rubbish collectors and do not attend school. Others take menial jobs at railways, bus stations, and roadside cafes. The reporters visit them at their workplaces to get their stories.

Photo file – Shambu,17, the editor of the Balaknama. In the mornings he washes cars in one of Delhi’s posh areas. In the afternoons, he spends most of his time working on the newspaper.

Source – Al Jazeera