India has the largest population of street children in the world, with at least 18 million living and working just in its major cities. In 1988 film director Mira Nair used proceeds from her movie Salaam Bombay! to create the Salaam Baalak Trust, which every year provides some 5,000 children with housing, health care, schooling, and nutritious meals. In many cases the kids also participate in sports, creative activities, and vocational training, and among the trust’s host of success stories are youngsters who have gone on to become engineers, photographers, and actors. The program’s graduates now conduct two-hour walks through the New Delhi Railway Station and the inner city of Paharganj, visiting the communities where participants grew up and ending at the Salaam Baalak center, where children, as young as seven years old, talk about their time on the streets. The entire experience is quite moving. Private walks can also be arranged, and volunteers able to give at least two weeks of their time are welcome. Sponsoring a child is $670. At DDR Community Center, Chandiwali Galli; salaambaalaktrust.com.
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