In India, more than 11 million children live in the streets.

Many come from families torn apart by poverty. Some are orphans; other fled their homes because of mistreatment and abuse, in order to survive. They survive by begging or shoplifting. Sometimes they work in the informal sector as shoeshine boys, taxi washers or hawkers of lost objects. They collect rags, glass and plastic bags. They also seek food in the garbage behind restaurants, all this to have something to eat and to earn a few rupees. Without affection nor bearings, they are every exploiter’s prey.

No one cares about their health and some catch dangerous diseases, are injured and sometimes die from their injuries due to a lack of health care. In addition, sexual abuse is frequent. Girls are the most vulnerable and live in constant fear of being raped and thrown into prostitution.

Resource Education Society (RES)

RES is a non-profit organisation created in 1993. Its work is based on a simple but strong premise: education is the basic resource necessary for the sustainable development of society. After a first effort (the provision of evening courses), its programme gradually expanded its scope of intervention, which remains as always for the benefit of the most vulnerable: children, the Dalits, marginalized women, etc.

• Care and support for children freed from indentured slavery

It was in 2003 that CCI founded the Rainbow Centre in India. Its purpose was to take in children freed from indentured slavery and provide them with an education, vocational training as well as psychological and health care. This approach aimed at their regaining their self-esteem, and developing different professional and social skills. Particular attention was given to girls in order to strengthen their skills and decision-making power.

This involved their ability to say “no” to an early marriage in order to continue their studies, with the hope of one day occupying a position of responsibility. Unfortunately, the Centre had to close due to a lack of necessary funding to take in new arrivals.

However, CCI decided that all the efforts hitherto devoted to children would not be in vain. Hence, since 2009, it continues to ensure support for children released from debt bondage who were previously supported by the Rainbow Centre. They have grown considerably since the beginning of the project!

Objectives of the project:

• Enabling the reintegration of children exploited by labour into regular society
• Offering them moral support and a sympathetic ear
• Giving them access to education and knowledge, from primary school to university, according to individual career choices
• Steering young people towards appropriate career choices
• Giving equal chances to girls as to boys, so they may level-headedly envisage their future
• Teaching young people to tolerate others, regardless of their sex

• Microcredit program for marginalised women

Single women are marginalized in Indian society; its social stratification is designed in such a way as to exclude such persons from ordinary society. The social stigma associated with divorce still weighs heavily on women, usually housewives who depend on their spouses, and life alone can be cruel and oppressive to women because they are perceived as only being complete when they are married.

CCI gave itself as a mission to break the cycle of poverty and indentured slavery. Single women are often forced to borrow from loan sharks in order to be able to cope with unforeseen expenses such as health costs. Once deep in debt, they find themselves unable to repay the amounts borrowed, and are forced to send their children out to work. Since 2007 CCI launched a microcredit programme in the community of Vizianagaram.

It is an effective way to generate a source of income for poor women, enabling them to eliminate their debts and develop financial independence. It makes it possible for them to create or maintain small businesses without having to go into debt.

However, to benefit from this programme, there is one strict condition: their children must to be enrolled in and attend school. Once approved, beneficiaries receive a small interest-free loan which, however modest, greatly improves—sometimes radically—their quality of life.

By guaranteeing access to education for their children, and financial opportunities to families through the use of microcredit, CCI makes it possible to break the vicious cycle of indebtedness and avoid its perpetuity. The microcredit programme and its efforts in supporting education are a huge success. Today, women who have joined the project are investors in education.

Objectives of the project:

• Enabling women targeted by the project to become entrepreneurs
• In the short term, promoting an increase in beneficiaries’ income
• In the medium term, enabling the schooling of children as well as more systematic access to health care
• Finally in the long term, making it possible for women—who have often lived their entire life being undervalued and marginalised—to have the chance to become autonomous and develop their self-esteem.

Their vulnerability is considerably reduced because they increase their capacity to act, which improves the quality of life for their families, their communities, and future generations

Rescue Foundation

The Rescue Foundation is a non-profit organisation working in the field of human rights, specialising in the rescue, rehabilitation and repatriation of sex trafficking victims in India. This organisation defends young victims who have lost all their rights, and who have been physically and mentally tortured in order to be forced into prostitution. The Rescue Foundation puts in place programmes aimed at protecting, training and providing access to health care for these young girls.

• Career training for girls freed from sexual exploitation

Each year, the Rescue Foundation frees about 300 girls from sexual exploitation, pursues the traffickers, and provides legal assistance to the victims. At the same time, it provides health and psychosocial care, reintegration help and socio-economic support to those young people removed from commercial sexual exploitation. Finally, it also offers services for the repatriation of victims to their native country or community of origin (such as Bangladesh, (India and Nepal).

Thanks to its partnership with CCI, the Rescue Foundation was able to build a career training centre for these young girls in order to offer them access to education, acquisition of professional skills and microcredit services. The goal is to equip them with the necessary tools to find a good job that meets their expectations, with a proper salary, so that they may build a better future.

Objectives of the project:

• Making it possible for young girls to rebuild their lives, mentally and physically, and regain possession of their own bodies
• Providing access to education so they may professionally reintegrate society
• Facilitating repatriation to country or community for those who wish to do so
• Preparing victims to testify against their former captors if they so wish
• Offering a place of refuge and a sympathetic ear, without discrimination.

Kid Power India

Kidpower India is a non-profit organisation established in 2007 that aims to create a more secure world for children by protecting their rights. It makes it possible for them to develop academic and social skills so as to improve their self-esteem. CCI places great importance on education, and considers it as a major tool with great leverage for developing any country.

Two of CCI’s projects were therefore developed according to this theme. Schools were opened in the middle of two slums, in partnership with Kidpower India, offering a programme of school reintegration to children living in those areas. A basic education is provided to children enabling them to integrate a regular school at the end of their first year of schooling. Both schools are located in Visakhapatnam slums, In the State of Andhra Pradesh in India.

These slums are mainly populated by families living off the recovery and resale of recyclable materials. The menial incomes involved, the large size of families, and the lack of time available for parents to care for their children are the main causes for these children’s poor attendance at regular schools in the vicinity.

• Louise Grenier School

The general configuration of the Dayananda Nagar slum presented major security problems for children. In fact, it is surrounded by railway tracks, creating a very dangerous situation for the little ones in particular. Many parents who would have wanted to send their children to school refused to do so for reasons of safety. It was therefore decided to build the school exactly in the middle of this slum to be closer to the population concerned and avoid the risk of children having to cross the tracks. The objective seemed quite ambitious: to convince parents to send their children to school rather than work alongside them. But this was without taking into account the willpower and dedication of our local partner, Kidpower India, and that of the teacher in charge!

Classes begin at 9:00am and end at 12:30pm. Children mainly learn mathematics, biology, Telugu (the local language) but also some elements of English. Traditional teaching methods are followed, along with more playful approaches, in order to galvanize the attention of young people who are not used to going to school. Supplies and lunches are provided by the school, and used as incentives to attract children towards the institutions.

• Hope School

For this school, the geographical location of their slum is not an impediment to school enrolment of children. However, the same problems of poverty and lack of security remain present. The government has provided accommodation to some families, but not everyone has had access to better living conditions; they continue to live in makeshift dwellings made of planks and plastic sheeting.

The heath and sanitation situation is very poor in this area because of constant flooding and disease, and minimal access to running water. Over 350 families live in this area, in extremely precarious conditions.