Saturday, December 10, 2005

Ukraine Scottish International Relief now helps street children in the Ukraine

Kiev's homeless kids find hope
The Orange Revolution - Many Ukrainians now express disappointment at their nation's failure to improve living standards and battle corruption since the dramatic days of the street protests.There have been no demonstrable improvements in poverty rates, and Yushchenko's approval ratings have plunged.


Monday, December 05, 2005

Snehasadan - Bombay



Children from all over India start life anew on the platforms of Mumbai's Victoria Terminus.

Victims of abuse, or abandoned by poor migrant parents, or simply orphans, they join the 100,000 already living on the streets of Mumbai, a city of 14 million people, which draws them like a magnet.

The lucky ones are picked up by Snehasadan, the centre that has worked with children for 40 years, attempting, through regular and personal links to rescue them from a life of thievery and drugs.

Only some can be taken and not all will stay; but those who do can go to technical school and equip themselves for life.

Children under 14 are put into one of the 17 homes run by the centre, four of which are for girls. The home takes full responsibility for them and tries to recreate their lost childhood. Here they live with a family that has its own children, and are required to respect the rules of the house.

Some just walk away through the doors always left open. "To help them, you need to build your own credibility," says Placido Fonseca SJ who, after 30 years with the youngsters as director of Snehasadan, still admits that he has a lot to learn. "Most of the public see these children as 'things to be used' or cheap labour to be exploited... I am still unable to fathom the mystery behind these children. But we have given them an identity and changed their destiny."

Sunday, December 04, 2005



Photos and tour:


“Diary of a Street Child”

This morning is one of those mornings when I’m awake, but afraid to open my eyes. Just a few seconds longer! I’m imagining myself wrapped in a lovely warm duvet, but the damp and the cold have soaked right through my bones. I open my eyes a tiny slit and watch pairs of feet marching past for a while. Suddenly one comes startlingly close to my forehead. I decide to sit up. I feel groggy and tired and lift my sleeve to my nose. There’s not very much solvent left, but it’s better than nothing. After a few seconds, I need more. That means money.

Winding through the morning crowds, I borrow a piece of bread from a street-side stand and a 5Q note from someone’s pocket. I hate stealing, but it’s the only way to survive. Sometimes I imagine what it would be like to earn your own money. I could have my own little house, with a warm bed and I could eat black beans and tortillas every single morning! But that will never happen to me.

I spend the stolen note on a bag of sweets from the supermarket. My day is spent hopping on and off the many buses charging around the city, attempting to sell the sweets. If I can sell them all, then I’ll have enough money to buy my glue and who knows, I may even have some for another piece of bread! No chance. The bus driver’s just realised that I’ve been sitting down in my daydream, not selling sweets and not paying. My pockets are emptied. I’m thrown off.
Never mind. The evening’s coming. Time to meet the others. There’s five other boys I know around here. We meet together just after six every night. This guy comes along to sell us our solvents. We sit there, sniffing and I forget everything. We chatter about the people we’ve seen and sometimes we talk about our families. I don’t like to tell them about mine.

Often, the Toybox street team come to visit. Those are my favourite parts of the week, as long as I’m not too doped up to take part! We play crazy games and colour in pictures – it’s so much fun! My favourite part is when they give us first aid. They are so caring and they want to know about me and how I am. Sometimes when I’m with them, it feels like everything will be ok. They tell me about God and I don’t always understand, but it sounds amazing. Last night we were looking at the stars for ages and talking about how big God is! They say that even though he made everything, he loves me!

But soon they’re gone. I feel so empty again. I wander around, looking for a doorway to lie down in. I snuggle up, my sleeve firmly against my nose, and soon the angry noise of the city fades away and I drift into an uneasy sleep.

The Toybox Charity supports a comprehensive rescue and rehabilitation programme for street children in Guatemala, giving them a loving home, education and hope for the future.

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