Chennai

International Day for Street Children observed

Observing the International Day for Street Children, children from shelters and pavement dwelling communities came together to participate in debates, group discussions, street theatre and dance performances facilitated by Karunalaya, an NGO working with street children.

Based on the discussions between the children who participated on the theme ‘Respect Us, Listen to Us, Protect Us’, a list of demands were drawn up focusing on the need for access to healthcare, sanitation, housing, identity documents and education for street communities.

Street children from places around the city, including Barracks Street, Walltax Road, Moore Street and Kannappar Thidal, participated in the event, which was inaugurated by S. John Bosco, president, Karunalaya.

“We need a safe place to stay and while the government is facilitating housing projects in many of our areas, our families are seldom allotted homes there. We need to be given housing in the area where we stay so that the livelihood of our parents does not get affected,” the children said in their demands. They further highlighted the need for better common toilet facilities which are kept open round-the-clock, access to clean drinking water and protection for children on the streets who are often vulnerable to abuse.

Paul Sunder Singh, founder and director, Karunalaya, said among the issues highlighted were how many street children attending primary and elementary schools remained without any sort of access to education and learning throughout the COVID-19 pandemic due to the closure of regular classes in schools.

“Senior students have been able to remain in touch with their schools and teachers at some level but for the younger children, there will be a huge learning gap. The government should ensure that these children do not eventually drop out,” he said.

Speaking about the United Nations General Comment No. 21 on Children in Street Situations, Mr. Paul said the basic guidelines that it offered need to be implemented well and that more awareness was needed on the same.

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Printable version | May 7, 2021 7:33:08 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/international-day-for-street-children-observed/article34306582.ece

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