RewriteTheNewNormal

Save The Children India rewriting the stories of street children in India

Six months and counting. COVID19 is now part of our life. For further depression please visit WHO. Every day they come up with new facts and reports which they only change after a few days. Poor government is not only the media hungry.

If you have followed the virus, like it is doing then we all can agree that women and children have been most afflicted. UNICEF says that for some children the impact will be life long.

The ongoing crisis could increase the number of children living in monetary poor households by up to 117 million by the end of 2020, according to the latest analysis from UNICEF and Save the Children. Immediate loss of income often means families are less able to afford basics, including food and water, are less likely to access health care or education, and are more at risk of violence, exploitation, and abuse.

Malnutrition is already another pandemic in making. As many as 132 million people may go hungry in 2020, and 370 million children may miss out on nutritious school meals. 

Besides the pandemic could lead to the first rise in child labour after 20 years of progress. Child labour decreased by 94 million since 2000, but that gain is now at risk. According to UNICEF, the rise in poverty could lead to an increase in child labour as households use every available means to survive. 

You and I will be lucky to adjust to the new normal but there would be countless unknown faces who won’t. The street children of India - the ones who we see them on traffic signals, or in places where we wouldn’t want to look. During the ongoing pandemic, these unaccountable and unknown faces have been left to their fate. 

Mark W. Lusk, a prominent researcher of street children, developed four categories of children on the street from his research: children who work on the street but return to their families at night, children who work on the street but whose family ties are dwindling, children who live and work with their families on the street, and children who work and live on their own on the street.

The term "street child" has come to refer only to the last group.

I couldn’t find any recent data that could give an approximate number of these unknown and unaccountable faces. Since they don’t have any proof of identification and move often, keeping a track is nearly impossible. 

Simply put since they don’t have any proof of identification, they will go unaccounted and their voices will be neglected.

Just like the migrants who died during the course of going back to their homes in their own country. The nationwide lockdown forced more than one crore migrants to move back to their homes. However, the Indian government has no interest to give any kind of compensation to the dead migrants because there is no data on migrant deaths. 

No data, no deaths happened.

#RewriteTheNewNormal

Nonetheless, Save The Children India is urging Indians to listen to the street children of India. In the latest campaign 'Lagey Apna Sa' (They Belong) is a film that poignantly narrates the story of those who are around us, yet neglected: 20 lakh children on the streets of India. Long ignored, every year, thousands of them get displaced.

The website further adds:

Around 80% of them don't have an identity and thus no social protection. It's time we start hearing what street-connected children have to say, acknowledge their issues, and accord them an identity.

The nonprofit has a specific donation page for the campaign that talks about how we dislike the new normal. But for some, the normal was a nightmare and the new normal is worse. Save The Children India wants to rewrite the new normal for the children affected by the COVID19.

The donation page talks about how the donated money would be used. For instance, the INR 3600 food basket would include rice, wheat, moong dal, tur dal/black gram salt, sugar, tea, oil, spices, onion, potato, and soybean. Along with customised donation packages, one can donate whatever she wants.

Save the children is aiming to support 32.1 lakh children until March 2022. A commendable vision.

But I have a few simple questions:

Save The Children India initiated the #RewriteTheNewNormal campaign so that the voices of street children could be heard and accord them an identity. While it is asking the countrymen to protect the future of these children and rewrite their future. But what is the NGO doing?

Obviously it is supporting the children of India but how is the NGO approaching the street children of India through this initiative. The money that has been donated by this campaign how is it getting used for the betterment of the street children in India. Is it working on a particular state or the entire country? If the money is uitlised as a whole for all the affected children in India then it defeats the complete purpose of the #RewriteTheNewNormal campaign.

One of the pertinent reasons why people don’t give to NGOs is the lack of clarity on how the donated money is going to be used. The donor communication of Save The Children India is miserable. I say from my donation experience that I had carried out a few months ago.

While creating new campaigns will get eyeballs and motivate people to donate but at the same time building an ongoing relationship with the donor is very much required. The monthly newsletter is an easy way out. One expects much more from well-established nonprofits like Save The Children India.

Street children of India need to be heard especially during the ongoing pandemic. Their new normal is worst beyond our imaginations.