Did you know that the #1 reason for kids in India to run away from home is to pursue an acting career in Bollywood?
This was an unexpected revelation from our guide from the The Salaam Baalak Trust City Walk.
Street kids in India are so prevalent that no one bats an eyelid when a kid comes begging for money or food. A permanent fixture of India’s landscape, especially in the big cities, these street kids invoke in us strong sentiments to help. But we were strongly discouraged from giving money to the street kids as they could be working for the mafia. And after watching the horrifying treatment of street kids in the 2008 hit movie Slumdog Millionaire, we were wary.
The truth is that many kids dream of being the next bollywood star like Shahrukh Khan or Priyanka Chopra. So when a friend living in Delhi told us about The Salaam Baalak Trust City Walk where we could help the kids with monetary donation as well gain a better insight into the lives of these street kids, we decided to sign on. We also wanted to expose our kids to more charitable causes by sharing their toys or being able to provide for kids their own age who were less fortunate than them. It was an eye-opening experience for us.
We met at the office and were greeted by the “guides” of The Salaam Baalak Trust. They showed us around the office and even arranged for us to meet the kids who performed a simple song for us.
It was humbling to see the small area that house all 20, sometimes 30 kids. Mattresses which the kids in this shelter use at bedtimes pile high in the rooms behind the blue walls. Below is a picture of our guides who were once lost boys too on the streets of India. (read our guides horrifying tale of how he ended up on the streets and how this organization saved him).
Our kids had little interaction with these street kids due to language barrier. But they were allowed to hand little toys that we brought for them. It was heartwarming to see the smiles on their faces as they receive the small gifts. I am not sure if my kids understood the significance of the occasion, but we were glad they could be a part of it.
Then we began the walk down narrow paths and dirty alleys. The guides showed us the garbage sites where the kids “sieve” through daily to find products to sell to recycling companies as well as their source of daily meal. India street kids sell their recyclable items to vendors like these for a few rupees which they would spent on video games. They are kids afterall.
They showed us the train station which was a favourite hangout during winter months and the dirty flat platforms they slept huddled together at night.
It is horrifying and humbling to see these platforms that the street kids look for to sleep at night. My heart breaks thinking of these harsh platforms and icy cold beds for the street kids. Aside from the weather, GOD knows what other menace or dangers these kids face living on the streets.
Our guide then brought us into a narrow lane lined with pictures of Indian deities. Here is a pop quiz — why are there pictures of Gods along the wall? Answer: to prevent boys or men from peeing or doing illegal activities against these walls.
They shared about the dangers of being on the streets and the predators that prey on young, innocent and defenceless children. READ about my guide’s own tales of woe and how he came to be a street kid.
It was a very sobering experience for all of us and we walked away feeling very fortunate and blessed. For more information on The Salaam Baalak Trust Walk organization and how you can volunteer or help with their cause, CLICK HERE.
Watch this video to get a better idea of the City Walk.
Salaam Baalak City Walk from aaron horton on Vimeo.
The walk costs R200 (~S$5) per person. And the duration of the entire visit (including the walk) was about 2 hours. More details can be found HERE.
If you wish to do more, here’s the contact person and her details.
Contact Person – Ms.Praveen Nair, Chairperson
Address – 2nd Floor, DDA Community Centre, Gali Chandiwali, Paharganj, New Delhi – 110055 (Tel: 91-11-23584164, 23589305)
Email-ID – firstname.lastname@example.org
Read more about our travels in India:
- Travelling With Kids: Mumbai
- Travelling With Kids: Pune
- Travelling With Kids: Delhi
- Wonders Of the World: The Taj Mahal
- Learning To Serve In India
- Lost Kids Of India
- Salaam Baalak Trust – Walk In The Shoes Of The Street Kids
- Lost In The Streets Of India
Till our next post, love yourself, love one another.