“For children with no home, life is a fast train to nowhere, Salaam Balaak Trust works to restore them to the world of childhood”
~ ~ Salaam Balaak Trust.
In an academic journal article entitled “Street Children in India: A Non-Government Organization (NGO)-Based Intervention Model” published in 2009, Dr Amit Sen closed by dedicating his article “to the millions of street children and their indomitable spirit and resilience.” For those of you who haven’t read the hundreds of articles required for doctoral studies, let me tell you this: It is highly unusual to see such a dedication from a senior clinician in an academic paper.
To me, Amit’s words and their appearance in such a context sum up SBT entirely.
SBT’s vision statement is as follows:
“For children with no home, life is a fast train to nowhere, Salaam Balaak Trust works to restore them to, the World of childhood, take for a lonely dead end, to bonding, learning and the joy of a professional life.
Salaam Balaak Trust works towards a creation of a just and equitable society, which respects the rights of the child to education, health & nutrition, family environment, recreation & constructive participation.”
SBT’s mental health program nestles within the organisation’s values and vision. As outlined in Amit’s paper, the program maintains a psychological model of trauma and mental health with an emphasis on prevention and early intervention alongside cultivating a sense of hopefulness. So what does this mean in ‘real-world’ terms? I can’t say for sure having only spent two weeks here, but to me the emphasis on meeting the needs of young people and creating a resilient community is evident in the warmth, chattiness, confidence and kindness of the kids and adolescents in SBT’s care. I’ve observed teenager’s patience with younger children, gentle teasing among children, and young people supporting each other with school work. There is a sense of caring and connectedness throughout the whole organisation, including graduates, staff and volunteers.
Of course, things aren’t perfect – how could there be with so many young people to care for and few adults. These are structural limitations that won’t change. Also, CPD opportunities for staff are expensive and the training on offer in India is not always of a high quality. This is where I’m hoping I can help. With my research and clinical contacts in Edinburgh, I hope to help SBT staff build their knowledge and confidence around the following themes:
- Preventing and managing bullying in residential homes
- Diversifying therapeutic models and techniques
- Thinking about trauma and how to help support children who have experienced complex trauma
I’ll be working closely with Shikha over the next couple of weeks towards these aims and will keep you posted on the project as it develops. For those who are interested, I highly recommend reading Amit’s original article:
Sen, A. (2009). Street children in India: a non-government organization (NGO)-based intervention model. Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, 30(6), 552-559.
I hope you are finding our work here in India interesting to read about. If you are, please consider supporting the project by following us on social media or giving a small donation. There is a link to donate in the ‘support us’ tab.