SKYCHILDREN (2018-2020), Calcutta, India
In an attempt to escape the extreme poverty of rural villages and often abuse or violence, many children travel along the railways in an attempt to reach bigger cities, searching for refuge. As a result, thousands of children who take to the railroad in search of a better life, end up living along the train tracks, exposed to drugs and brutality. Stations and railways, however, are chaotic places, often frequented by people who aim to profit from vulnerable children on their own. Unfortunately, many of them wind up at the mercy of these individuals, doing tasks such as shining shoes to earn money or becoming involved in drug trafficking and even prostitution. Since the problem is widespread in India, the children are often ignored by travelers, becoming almost invisible.
This project aims to help the children of the railways, intervening before swindlers and traffickers have the chance to abuse them. Hospice centers were created near the stations where hundreds of children, intercepted by social workers, can find safety and refuge. They have access to meals, basic hygienic amenities and medical assistance. Above all, they have access to the support of trained professionals who strive to understand their origins and backstory as well as orient them towards education and a bright future.
The 2018 initiative focused on protecting children near the Ghutiary Shariff station, a busy commuting point just an hour and a half outside of Calcutta. The project provides for the management of the day shelter near the station, where children are welcomed, nourished with a daily meal, assisted with basic sanitation, health and medical needs, and involved in educational activities. The priority is always to reunite the children with their families if after contextual analysis and administrative processes it can be established that it could be an option for the children’s best interest. Otherwise, action is taken to place the children in safe environments.
Associazione IRENE and SPAZIO3R+, the “Riciclo Ricucio Riuso” (Recycle, Re-sew, Reuse) initiative was created as a four-month instructional sewing workshop for unemployed women.