India is home to nearly a fifth of the world’s people. In 2017 the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs reported that the population is now over 1.3 billion and that by 2024 it is likely to be the most populous country in the world. It has a fast-developing economy with IT, business, culture and tourism all booming.
Alongside extreme wealth there is also extreme poverty. In poor countries, 1 in 4 children are engaged in child labour. Child labour is a growing problem in India, as children are forced to work in hazardous conditions in rubbish dumps, coal mines, and garment factories.
Just over a quarter of India’s 400 million children are working on the streets.These street-connected children live either directly on the streets, sleeping at bus stations, railways or markets with no shelter, or in tents made of plastic sheeting and bamboo in over-populated slum areas. The children in the slum areas face the constant threat of eviction because they are on unauthorised land. The marginalised rural children live in poor quality and, often, makeshift housing.
These street-connected and marginalised children have to live without amenities such as safe tap water, functioning health centres and quality schools. They are deprived of their rights to healthcare and education, resulting in poor health and disease. They also face discrimination in their education and drop-out rates are high.
Many children also either don't have a family or experience violence, dysfunction and poverty. Those on the streets are subjected to physical, sexual and emotional violence.
These street-connected & rural ethnically marginalized children are conditioned to think there are no alternative options to their existing life. They often lack communication, interpersonal relationships, empathy, and positive coping skills and suffer from poor mental health. Their social isolation and neglect often results in the children being victims of gangs and drug dealers as well as involved in their activities.
Butterflies has been working with street-connected children since 1989. They are one of ChildHope's oldest partners. Their focus areas are education and vocational training, development of life skills, financial management and health. Butterflies also has a research, advocacy and training wing and is an active participant in national and international networks for advocating and promoting policies, programmes and actions to protect the rights of children. Children are given their own prominent voice in the advocacy work through the children’s media projects Butterflies runs.
Child-led health & sports cooperatives (CHSC) provides a safe environment for 4,500 street-connected and marginalized children, to build life skills and make positive life choices. Using sport within an integrated programme, the project aims to overcome social isolation, increase self-esteem and tackle substance abuse and risky behaviour. We work with street-connected children in Delhi, Mumbai and Jaipur and ethnically marginalised children in rural Kerala, Odisha and Jharkhand who are at risk of migrating and losing family care. Both groups are at the margins of society, are deprived of a safe and settled place to live and face social isolation and discrimination.
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