Supporting Street Children
Street children constitute a marginalized group in most societies. They do not have what society considers appropriate relationships with major institutions of childhood such as family, education, and health. There are more than 5000 children living and working on the streets of Nepal. These children are among the most vulnerable in society frequently falling victim to some of the worst forms of child labor and exploitation. Street children are misunderstood, negatively viewed, and stigmatized by a large portion of society. This social misunderstanding only serves to compound the challenges these children face on a day to day basis. The problem has worsened because of economic problems, political changes, civil unrest, increasing family separation and conflicts, the epidemic spreads of diseases, and natural disasters.
Children of migrant families, migrated child labor, street children and children from slum and squatter settlements, orphaned, abandoned and destitute children often live on the margins of society with little means of improving their lives. Many children find themselves leaving their family homes to reside on the streets for various reasons such as the death of one or both parents, poverty, illiteracy, domestic abuse, and the attraction of city life. The street children spend their life in a difficult way with many residing in urban areas with the hopes of improving their lives through earning money in activities such as begging, collecting rags/ garbage, shining shoes, dishwashing in local restaurants, local transport helpers, labor works such as carrying loads. Street children are also highly vulnerable to exploitation, sexual abuse, inadequate nutrition, physical injuries, substance use, and health problems including sexual and reproductive health problems. They need the assistance of caring adults, appropriate shelter with nutritional food, and good education with values and life skills. Literacy and access to quality education are the only media by which these children will be able to change their lives and move away from the struggles of street life. Despite support through charitable services, street children have extremely high rates of morbidity, disability, and mortality.
The Volunteer Society Nepal has opened a school for those children who have no access to any form of education at all. The program was inaugurated by the District Education Officer for Kavre district. The project began in the area of Banepa, Karve which is centrally located in Nepal and connects the capital city of Kathmandu to the eastern parts of the country. Banepa is an important transit area of Nepal as two major highways run through the area connecting not only the country but also Nepal to India and China. This makes the area extremely attractive to children looking to find a better life and a vital reason to provide proper education to those who are most in need of it.
The school has been providing free education, stationery, books, clothing, and snacks on a regular basis for its students. Currently, the school is staffed with two female teachers who have had long experience in the education system and teaching children of various ages. At the moment there are a total of 45 students who attend the school, with 21 girls and 24 boys.