Children running away from abuse, violence and poverty use India's extensive railway network to get to the cities, where they hope to find a better life. Thousands of children arrive at India’s vast, chaotic railway stations and find themselves lost, alone and scared, with no idea where to go or what to do. Their dreams brutally shattered, they end up living on the platforms.
Children run away or are forced to leave home for a wide variety of reasons, including violence, abuse, poverty or neglect. Many dream of finding work in the cities and a brighter future. Some intend to return to their families with money for food, but end up lost in the chaotic railway network.
India’s huge, bustling railway stations are perfect for abusers looking to prey on lonely, desperate, vulnerable children. Children are constantly at risk of sexual abuse, exploitation and violence. Many children resort to drugs and substance abuse to get through each day.
Railway Children believes that no child should ever be forced to live alone and at risk on a railway platform. The charity wants to be able to reach as many children as possible and make a real, lasting difference to their lives.
With more support and more people helping, the greater the impact Railway Children can have, and the more effective the work will be in helping children stay safe.
At street level we strive to meet the immediate needs of children at risk on the streets and platforms of India today. We have created a number of ‘child friendly stations’ with the help and engagement of the people who work at them, who now look out for and help children alone and at risk.
With their involvement, we can help more children than we could by ourselves. Our outreach workers spend time with children, gaining their trust and providing someone to talk to and a safe place to stay, while we work out the best long-term solution for their individual circumstances. We provide child protection booths on platforms and drop-in centres nearby. Where possible, we work to reunite children with their families.More Street Level work
At community level Railway Children works to make children on the streets visible to society and to help people understand the issues that cause children to run away and that face them on the streets and on the platforms. Investing time and skills in preventative intervention, with the aim of creating ‘safety nets’ within communities, helps to catch children who are at risk of running away before they do so.More Community Level work
At government level, Railway Children works to persuade policy makers that children living on the streets should be higher on India’s political agenda and that government policies should provide greater protection and opportunity for them.
By working with the government, changes can be amplified to affect all children, creating a greater impact.
Railway Children also works in an advisory capacity to improve conditions of care and protection in India’s government-run children’s homes.More Government Level work