Every five minutes, a child arrives alone on a platform somewhere in India. Data indicates more children access the railway network than any other form of transport. Children end up on railway platforms seeking to escape poverty, abuse, poor performance in an exam, or because of reprimands at home. The reasons are many.
With 8,000 railway stations crisscrossing the country, a child can:
easily slip into street or work life
add to the estimated 11 million street children in our cities
become vulnerable to abuse, child labour, trafficking, substance abuse or petty crime
(Source: Railway Children India, APPI)
A Stronger Safety Net
Our programme is a natural expansion and scale up of our existing support for street and homeless children. We know the world is infinitely more dangerous for children found on railway platforms too. By partnering with both Railway Children India (RCI) and Childline India Foundation (CIF), we shore up their strengths and build on their DNA to scale up. So that they transform into two strong, stable organisations that can continue to sustain their work and deliver on outcomes to vulnerable children.
The organisations, in turn, will collaborate with station-level partners to reach out to a child, through a 24x7 outreach worker, as soon as the child alights on a platform. Once the outreach worker does so, the child is taken to a help desk, counselled, given food, rest and a medical check up at an open shelter. The child is produced before the Government Child Welfare Committee (CWC), and ultimately, restored to his or her family or referred to a long-term care home. If the outreach worker cannot get to the child in time, the child becomes vulnerable to abuse, leads a life of petty crime, gets no education, care or protection.
While designing our intervention around this simple focus area, we work to enable our partner organisations so that they can provide a safety net for children across 40-60 major stations, over five years. And also ensure that railway authorities, vendors and passengers on the platform are sensitive and responsive to the issues of children at railway stations. So that the children do not end up on the streets.