Staff Reporter

CHENNAI: They live between the earth and the sky. Pavements are their home and they remain virtually non-existent to the rest of the society.

“Most pavement-dwellers do not have any access to government welfare measures and are totally out of the State’s security net,” said S. Joseph Wesley, manager of the Chennai Street Children Project.

He was speaking on the occasion of distribution of welfare assistance to families living in pavements, an event organised by World Vision India at the St. Joseph High School here recently.

The assistance was aimed at improving the economic returns from their work and hence depended on the kind of work that each person was involved in.

Fruit sellers got push carts and manual workers got trolleys to carry around heavy objects.

According to Mr. Joseph Wesley, the children of these pavement dwellers are especially at risk and get stuck in a vicious cycle if there is no intervention.

Difficulties faced

“Many of the children do not even have a birth certificate. It is very difficult to get them enrolled in schools. Economic assistance to the parents is meant to aid the children as well. If a family earns enough for sustenance, children are most often sent to schools.” Only parents of school going children were offered assistance.

School uniforms and books for children, along with a personal hygiene kit, was also distributed at the event.

The programme is part of a larger project through which schools in each locality are involved to reclaim street children and bring them back into society.

Information Minister, Parithi Ilamvazhuthi, who participated in the event welcomed NGO and community participation. He said that everyone has a social responsibility and it was not always up to the government to provide solutions.