Celebrating the Spirit of Survival
For children with no home, life is a fast train to nowhere. Salaam Baalak Trust works to restore them to the world of childhood, take them from a lonely dead-end to bonding, learning and the joy of a professional life.
In the last twenty years, the Salaam Baalak Trust (SBT) has helped thousands of children come off the streets and into a safe and nurturing environment. SBT has five 24-hour shelters (one devoted to girls), with 50 to 55 children visiting each. The Trust provides a holistic safety net of services catering to the individual needs of street children in Delhi and Mumbai, covering the entire area of child development from physical and medical care to the educational, creative, cognitive, social and vocational needs of the children.
Part of the capacity building support that SBT provides includes training for children to learn to become local tour guides.
Travellers with free time in New Delhi can take part in an exciting walking tour through the New Delhi railway station and the enchanting inner-city streets of Paharganj led by a child who was once living and working on the streets. This walk takes travellers on a journey through the back streets of Delhi with a child who has been fully trained as a local guide.
Planeterra Foundation partners with the Salaam Baalak Trust through its New Delhi Streetkids Project. Travellers on Planeterra’s Project India trip and other Gap Adventures India tour participants that pass through Delhi can take a city walk with SBT guides. Planeterra has donated funds to help cover the cost for two young guides for six months and to pay for food for four shelters. Below are letters from the two boys Planeterra’s donation supported this year – they have written the letters themselves.
I’m Brijesh Pandey (one of the tour guides in City Walk) I’ve been working here and at the same time I’m studying also. I’m studying Tourism Management from IGNOU and Spanish from Institute Servantes.
Like many of my friends I also ran away from home in the age of 8 because of my parents and my uncle and aunt. I spent about my five years on the street, within this period I was arrested twice and sent to prison because we used to sell water bottles illegally on the street. I came to Delhi when I was 11 years old and I joined Salaam Baalak Trust when I was 13 years old and after that I completed my 12th standard from the NMS School in the age of 19. And now I really appreciate SBT because whenever I remember my past I feel more stronger to see myself at this stage.
I’m Anil one of the tour guides who works for the Salaam Baalak Trust as a Tour Guide, I belong a small family, in my family I have two brothers and mom as well. I live in railway community area is in State Entry Road New Delhi, which is very close to Connaught place. I had father who used to drink alcohol a lot and he did not want to I get better education because most of the money my father used to spend on the drinking alcohol that why I was unable to get better education.
And then my mother brought me to Salaam Baalak Trust. Salaam Baalak Trust helped me out to complete my education. Last year I completed my 12th standard which is the final year in school now I’m going to join Indra (IGNOU) Gandhi National Open University to study Bachelor of Arts. I’m really happy, and also I am learning English in S.B.T and trying to make it better English everyday.
Letters and photos provided courtesy of Tanya Alaag of Salaam Baalak Trust.
Information compiled by Kelly Galaski, Partnership Coordinator, Planeterra
About Salaam Baalak Trust (SBT)
SBT runs five 24-hour full care shelters for children. These shelters provide the children security, a sense of home, and an opportunity to receive all the critical inputs of childhood. They aim at restoring the childhood in children besides instilling in them the values of independence and decision-making, education and social values and financial self-dependence, in order to help them become mature and responsible citizens of the country, and caring and responsible members of the society.
- SBT Brochure: “Whatever the Salaam Baalak Trust can do – it will be a fraction of what all children deserve. Please help us to do more…”
- SBT Walking Tour: “Walk into the street life of Delhi – Nobody knows Delhi’s streets better than the young people who will be your guides!”
About Planeterra Foundation
Planeterra is a non-profit organization dedicated to the development and support of small communities around the world. With its international partnerships, projects, and voluntours, Planeterra strives to be a global voice for voluntourism in the rising movement toward sustainability in travel. Planeterra is working with TIES as a Voluntourism Partner to collaborate on a number of initiatives to educate and engage travelers in voluntourism activities that give back to destinations, contribute to the sustainable development of communities, and provide unique opportunities to make personal connections with the local people.