Sunday, June 14, 2009

Invisible Children & Indian Slums

Early this year, Indian government has released- first of it’s kind- the Urban Poverty Report 2009, which estimates over 25 percent of urban population i.e. above 80 million lives in slums on poverty level. Among these 80 million, the worst sufferers are children.

US-based writer Shelley Seale has come up with her own experience with Indian slum children with a difference. Her book The Weight of Silence: Invisible Children of India, is aim to create awareness for these invisible children.

“Amidst the growing prosperity of India, there is an entire generation of parentless children growing up. They are everywhere. They fill the streets, the railway stations, the shanty villages. Some scrounge through trash for newspapers, rags or anything they can sell at traffic intersections. Others, often as young as two or three years old, beg. Many are homeless, overflowing orphanages and other institutional homes to live on the streets where they are extremely vulnerable to being trafficked into child labor if they’re lucky, brothels if they’re not. They are invisible children; their plight goes virtually unnoticed, their voices silenced,” Shelley wrote.

In Indian capital of Delhi, around three million people live in 1,500 slums. In these children hundred of thousand children daily survive the hardship of their life. Despite of their tough life, many of them has succeeded in showing ray of hope to others. Some of the examples from Delhi’s slums are

Community Newspapers
Slum children of Lal Quan and Haiderpur are engage in community publishing for spreading awareness. They publish wallpapers ‘Haiderpur Darpan’ and ‘Lal Quan Darpan’ respectively.

Children’s Bank
Bal Vikas Bank (Children Development Bank) is a bank for street children. It is owned and managed by children as a cooperative.

Slumdog Guides
Like Jamaal Malik, Slumdog Millionaire’s key character who rose from slums to become a millionaire despite all odds, there are an informal group of street children in Delhi who turned up as guide for foreign tourist for showcasing life in Delhi’s Slums.

Children Puppeteers
Child puppeteers belonging to low-income artist families keep alive their artistic traditions despite economic hardship. Kalakar Vikas School, an NGO, is training nearly four hundred children into their traditional arts.

Even Shelley inspired from spirit of Indian slum children as she puts: “Little did I know how much they would change my life. Their hope and resilience amazed me time and time again; the ability of their spirits to overcome crippling challenges inspired me. Even in the most deprived circumstances they are still kids – they laugh and play, perhaps far less frequently than others; they develop strong bonds and relationships to create family where none exists; and most of all they have an enormous amount of love to give.”

In her book, shelley combines hardships of vulenerable Indian children with her feelings. This book is a moral reponse of a concern human being.

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