SATHI (Society for Assistance to Children in Difficult Situation) is a non-profit organization. It was started in 1992, but formally registered in the year 1997 at Raichur and the main office is in Bangalore. SATHI works with children on the railway platforms. It rescues them from the vagaries of the platform life and provides shelter and care till the time the child is returned home safely.
The core activity of SATHI is ‘home placement’. Its operations are spread across the major junctions of India viz. Kanpur, Mughalsarai, Gorakhpur, Allahabad, Ahamadabad, Pune, New Delhi, Hyderabad, Tirupati, Yeshwantpur, Bangalore and Hubli.
SATHI was an unplanned outcome of a well-intended intention. It started as one woman’s dream to take care of the underprivileged children. For want of clear geographic identification of the problem and for keeping the number of children from poor localities at manageable number, it was suggested that it work with children seen on platform, as the SNDT at Pune was doing. In 92-93, the office was used as a shelter as it was very difficult to find a good place for a shelter.
The choices were dismal as the only available space was near a big gutter, which could not be used as a home for the children. SATHI felt that it must provide protection, good food, shelter and a sense of belonging to the run away children. That year, it rescued 30- 40 children. In 93-94, it started recreational activities like picnics and other organized games to cheer them up and build rapport with them.In 94-96 SATHI attempted a skill development program by giving them cycle-repair training. But the job placements failed. A family adopted one child but SATHI realized that the children have their own families, and have not been abandoned by the family but it is the child who has opted to ‘flee’ because of certain reasons (which in most cases is not very serious) without actually thinking of the consequences.
SATHI addresses these issues and helps in restoring the family structure. It has been found that the parents are distraught when the child leaves and search for him, often without any leads. SATHI repatriates the children with sensitivity and in most cases the child is happy to be home, where he belongs.SATHI’s initial attempts at organizing camps were green. Maya, an NGO from Bangalore helped in organizing camps in the outskirts of the city. By 1998-2000 it started extensive home placement and working with government observation homes. It also started camps for the children. The camps were conducted along the principles drawn out by Dr Shekhar Sheshadri, Head of Dept. of Child Psychiatry, NIMHANS, Father George Koleshani- BOSCO.
In 2000-02 it extended the work to Pune. The camps took shape and were well structured and the all the children’s cases were documented. It worked extensively with many government homes and helped 700 children in a year.Till this time, enough work was done on home placement, conducting camps and documents like child profile, data analysation, listed out reasons for children leaving home, case histories etc. It was a time to cross verify about the children retention level.
This we did and the result was 80% of the children stayed back at home in 98-2000. On this base, Sathi got confidence on home placement activities and wanted to spread the activities by collaboration with other organizations. The collaboration also worked in helping more number of children in 2003. By 2004 it started collaborating with other Ngos, propagating our concept of home placement, strengthening functionaries of CWC, study on emerging issues of children, research on platform children’s issues and behavior with research institutions like TISS, NIHMAS, etc.
Create a safe, secure and nurtured environment for runaway and separated children within the child protection system, from the grassroots to national level, so that the child may develop holistically with self-confidence, self worth and dignity.
- Create a safe and secure environment for runaway children picked from railway platforms, in Sathi’s shelters, Government Homes, Institutions and other NGO shelters, to protect the child form neglect and abuse.
- Reunite the runaway or separated child with family, and address the causes that had caused the child to run away to prevent them from running away again, as the family in the best place for a child.
- Track reunited children for a limited period of time to assess and encourage their integration with the family.
- Facilitate the child protection system from the grassroots to national level with a view to rehabilitate children with their families.
- Generate and share practice-based knowledge related to runaway and separated children, within the child protection system, so as to improve interventions in the interest of rehabilitating the child with family.
- Implement the best practices related to quality rehabilitation of children with their families, and to facilitate the implementation of these practices by the State and NGO sector working on the issue of runaway and separated children.
- Facilitate the engagement of civil society with the State on issues related to runaway and separated children.
VALUES THAT GUIDE SATHI’S PROGRAMS
- Transparency, integrity and honesty form the basis of relationship with all stakeholders.
- No discrimination on the basis of caste, class, gender, religion, region, and ethnicity.
- No indecent, violent behavior with children Respect for the perceptions, feelings and rights of children.
- Upward, downward and horizontal accountability.
- No indecent, violent behavior in the organization.
- Maintain professional relationship with all including children.
- Openness to learning from field experiences.
- Openness to sharing of data and knowledge with others.
- Utilization of resource for developing resource and not for obtaining infrastructure and property.
- Tam work is required in the interest of child.
- Respect for change efforts by other organizations in the interest of child
- Concern for the welfare of staff members.
- Actively promoting the participation of staff members in program decision making.
- Promoting internal reflection and questioning on the issues related to children on the street and their rehabilitation, so as to create practice based knowledge.
- Recognition of the need for civil society to engage with issues pertaining to railway or street children along with the state.
Future outlook by 2015
1. Big Jump in Helping Children:
We estimate that the total number of children may be helped for the next 5 years is 25000 children, 5000 children per year. This figure is achievable due to expansion and collaboration.
2. De-addiction & Home Orientation Camps:
More importance will be given in organizing camps in North India because the NGO’s still do not have positive feeling on holding the children for 1 month and organizing the camps. Large number of addicted children is too found in the North India. We plan to organize 50 camps.
3. Covering 50 location:
From the past a few years collaboration was at 25 locations. The outcome from this collaboration is yielding desired results. The collaboration concept is good, as small organization also gets an opportunity to grow and also large number of children can also be helped. In this context, Sathi is willing to expand for additional 25 locations. The total location will be 50.
4. With draw support by end of 2014-2015:
After having collaboration at 50 locations, support in terms of monetary, field assistance etc will be completely with drawn from collaboration at end of the 5 years and make the collab NGO’s capable to run the project independently.
5. State level Debate on Home Placement & Child Growth:
A study will be organized through NIMHANS or from a reputed institute on the above concept with the objective of developing and bringing a change in the perception about the home placement.
6. Child Development Institute:
After 5 years, Sathi has dream of becoming a resource organization on Child Issues of platform children. We will develop lot of materials on counseling, child behaviour, camp activities manual, preparing hand book for early intervention, process of home placement, address locating, and quality of home placement and on other various aspects.
7. Sathi Nodal Agency:
Sathi has a capacity to play the role like Project assessment, staff capacity building; linking funders for collaboration NGO’s, able to do research on child related issues. It likes to be nodal agency between the funders and NGO’s.
8. Invitation for More Volunteers:
Sathi pays visits to the Management college, Dept of Social Work and other universities and make a presentation on Sathi and creates interest among the students that they are welcomed to Sathi for doing their internship program or doing any kind of research work in Sathi. At the end of the 5 years, Sathi is expecting at least 15 volunteers will be associated with us.
9.Does Home placement Coincides with Child Rights:
The organizations working with the children seen on the railway platform is a national based project because there are many major railway stations situated. We found the organizations working on all these major railway stations to help the children and also on the issues of Child Rights’. Sathi feels that ‘Home placement of children coincides with Child Rights’. This can be addressed to the organization by hold workshops at Bangalore, Mumbai, New Delhi and other major cities.