An NGO dedicated to getting children off the streets and on their feet
Picture this classroom scene. There are about 15 children, each of whom is seated on their own mat. There are no desks or chairs but the classroom is not bare. It’s well-lit and there are fans too. Cupboards on the side are filled with books and stationary for the kids. On the walls are posters with primary school level information in English – from the alphabets to animals to fruits and vegetables etc. Some of the kids are past primary-school age though; they’re well into their teens. Seated next to each of them, on the same mat, is a young teacher. The teacher himself/herself is yet in college.
Seems almost like a regular classroom in a village, am I right? But you’re probably wondering about the 1:1 student: teacher ratio combined with the fact that the kids are past primary-school age. And maybe about the teacher too, who is yet in college?
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How it all began
Salaam Baalak Trust (SBT) was established in 1988 with the proceeds from Salaam Bombay! (1988, directed by Mira Nair), a much celebrated film of its time. The movie tells the story of Mumbai’s street children and the standards within which they live in due to the confines of India’s child laboring.
Most of the young actors who appeared in the film were actual street children. They received dramatic training at a special workshop in Mumbai before they appeared in the film. It was incredible to see how these kids, living by their wits on the street, responded to the classes and compassion of the film crew. This was just the inspiration Dinaz Stafford, Zarin Gupta and others needed to start a place in Mumbai these kids could come for the necessary assistance to move from the streets to mainstream life. They decided to set up Salaam Baalak Trust with the film as its namesake.
The Salaam Baalak Trust has five centers spread across the city of Bombay. There have a variety of direct care placements as well as administrative placements.
Fill out the volunteer form on their website to take this forward.