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Sight seeing of a different kind

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TRYING TO EKE A LIVELIHOOD: By selling flags PHOTO: SHIV KUMAR PUSHPAKAR
TRYING TO EKE A LIVELIHOOD: By selling flags PHOTO: SHIV KUMAR PUSHPAKAR

ANJANA RAJAN

The kids of Salam Balak Trust, now as tour guides, take you around the area near the New Delhi Railway Station.

Ever bought a magazine or a set of hankies from a kid hawking them on the street? Ever noticed that every little boy serving tea at the stalls that dot the roads and railways stations seems to be called Chhotu? Ever wondered where they go after the sun sets, what their real names are, whether they have parents to help them in the tough business of earning a living? Here is a chance to get to know children who once had no home but the streets, but are now proud residents of a shelter of the Salam Balak Trust in Delhi.

Walk around

Some of these former street children are now full-fledged tour guides and conduct groups through the city, every day of the week on two-hour tours starting 10 a.m. Described as "an insider's guide to the colourful street-life around the New Delhi Railway Station," the tour promises to be more than just a walk around public places. The tour guides will talk about their own experiences, how they ended up on the streets, and how they coped with such a life.The Salam Balak Trust has four shelter homes in Delhi where former street children live. Here they get an education, meals, counselling, medical help and recreational activities. Besides, the Trust has five contact points at New Delhi Railway Station that offer food, basic education and medical help to kids living on the platform.

Special training

The idea of conducting guided walks of the railway station area came from John Thompson, a volunteer with the Trust. Thompson, who is British, worked with the children on the project for six months. The boys conducting the tours have participated in the planning and organising of the project right from the beginning. They have also been specially trained in English and communication skills. While the earnings from tours will be a source of income for these ex-street children, the advantage for those who take the tour is that they learn about a side of society that is usually neglected. Lastly, the money raised will also contribute to the funds of the Trust for its various activities. The tour is open to school children, tourists, and the local population. Corporate bodies can also book the tour. For bookings and information, contact John or Shekhar at 9873130383 or email to sbttour@yahoo.com


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