In New Delhi, the Salaam Baalak Trust, a charity committed to improving the situation of street children, is offering a city walk guided by fully trained former street children.
During the tour, they share their own stories about when they were living on the streets and show how and where they spent their days.
Life On The Streets Of New Delhi
The walk starts in the New Delhi Railway Station where the guide explains how the street children living around the train platforms survive by searching the trash of the train carriages for food.
During the walk, participants have a peek into the Trust’s classroom on the platform where street children learn how to read and write, they visit the Trust’s seven contact points where children living on the streets or in illegal settlements can get free food, and they experience the daily life of street children roaming the markets in the inner city.
Participants get the chance to interact with the children living in the shelter that is also the head office of the Salaam Baalak Trust, where the walk ends.
Improving Street Children’s Skills
According to the Trust, the walking tour benefits both the tourists who go on the tour and the children who guide it.
”City Walk is an awareness program for guests. From this, they know more about street children, how they ended up on the streets, and how their lives on the street are like. These children as guides can explain them in detail because they also used to live on the street” claims Satender, a guide in training.
The children not only receive a salary, but they also get job training and learn how to be independent.
As well, it is a great opportunity to improve their English communication skills and learn more about different cultures.
The profit of the walking tours goes directly to the Trust to help street children with basic needs as food, education, clothes, and medical treatment.
More Interaction With Street Children
“Most of the feedback we receive is very positive. Tourists’ favorite part is hearing the guides’ stories. Some participants wish to interact more with the street children but we feel it could be intrusive and disruptive if we push it too far.” The Trust rejects the criticism that these tours are intrusive. It ensures that the former street children who are guiding the walk are all part of the Salaam Baalak Trust and all fully support and enjoy this initiative.
City Walk is available Monday through Saturday at 10 AM. It costs Rs. 200 ($ 4) per person and additional donations are more than welcome.
There are three guides available and groups are usually no more than 10 – 15 people