There are days that change everything. If we can put our ideas into perspective as we imagine them, the project described below could become one of the cornerstones of Travel for Smiles’ future work.
When we first met up with David on the 12th of February to see the street children, which he has invited to eat once a week for four years, we still had no idea where this breakfast would take us.
Most of those street children are a group of early twenties whose youngest member is 15 and has been living on the streets for eleven years. If they are lucky they can sleep somewhere in the polluted streets of the city, otherwise they sometimes set up in one of the garbage mountains.
Almost none of them went to school for more than two or three years, and contact with their parents or other relatives had stopped a long time ago. On their own, they can fight their way through everyday life by selling plastic crates or other not-so-useless utensils they find in waste. Because they see no other way out of the unimaginably tough everyday life, many of them resort to drugs.
Their moving life stories never left us. That same afternoon, we began to work on an idea of how we could give them pleasure, but also what can be done in the long term to give them a chance to emerge from this downward spiral. One of our easiest practices was to buy shoes of their choice after the next breakfast for each of them, as they were all in flip-flops. Of course that was not all we could do for them. We thought about taking them into the mountains for a few days to get them out of the city and also wanted to provide a way for them to get a hot shower regularly.
Since street children are people who lead a completely free life and, moreover, are reluctant to leave their familiar terrain, we quickly rejected the idea of the excursion. However, we stuck to the other idea and continued it together with Al, a very experienced 50 year old Scottish volunteer. After a lot of pondering, weighing up a variety of possibilities and assessing our resources and capabilities, we worked together on a project to be supported by both the Himalayan Foundation Nepal and the Rotary Club Leven Scottland aswell as Travel for Smiles. We thought of it as a drop-in center, which is initially expected to run three to four times a week for 24 hours, but after a few months would be open every day of the week. Here we want to ensure in a specially rented apartment that the street children can come to a warm dish, clothe themselves after a hot shower with clean second-hand clothes and provide a shelter during the rainy monsoon days and the bitterly cold days in winter. It would create a place where the street children can find refuge whenever they feel like it, without being restricted in their freedom.
We want to start fundraising in August and the planned project start would be January 2020.
In the future, we could also teach basics in mathematics, Hindi and English in this facility. From there, leprosy campaigns or other medical assistance could be launched. It would be a stepping stone for many more Travel for Smiles projects.
Donated funds used in this context:
- Food: 4,67 €
- Socks: 4.51 € (7 pair)
- Shoes: 69,99 € (7 pair)
- medicine: 0.62 €