There are over 50,000 street children in Delhi, and countless more who live in slums, who are out of school, and who engage in menial jobs such as garbage sorting and street vending. Since 2000, PCI has been working with vulnerable youth in three slum areas of Delhi by providing shelter to homeless youth, by providing remedial and life skills education, and by providing vocational training and job placement. PCI’s Vulnerable Children and Youth Legacy Program reflects PCI’s commitment to provide opportunities and hope to young people in these communities. Each year, PCI serves over 900 vulnerable children and youth through this program. The program receives no government support, but instead operates thanks to the generosity of many individuals and small grants.
Reaching the Homeless
PCI’s two-drop in centers, near the Old Delhi Railway Station in Red Fort, and the Nizamuddin Railway Station, are strategically located where many homeless youth live. PCI’s peer educators and outreach workers regularly visit the railway station platforms and other gathering points for homeless youth to talk with them and invite them to come to PCI’s drop-in centers where they can receive temporary housing, meals, clothing, and referrals to shelter homes for long-term stay. PCI helps to reunite children and youth with their families or relatives when possible. PCI also operates one shelter home in Mewat District, Haryana, that houses 21 boys, providing them with food and shelter, computer training, life skills education, and placement in a nearby government school.
Life Skills and Remedial Education
PCI provides life skills education in both of its drop-in centers, as well as in its vocational training center in New Seemapuri. Life skills education teaches the tools needed to be successful in life and to stay healthy. PCI’s life skills educators teach young people how to communicate and negotiate, how to stay safe and healthy, the importance of education, prevention of gender-based violence, and leadership skills. PCI also provides remedial education in its drop-in centers that help out-of-school youth meet the requirements for school admission and help youth currently in school to do well and pass their exams so that they can continue to the next grade level.
Vocational and Post-secondary Education
PCI’s vocational training center is located in New Seemapuri – a vast slum area of Delhi noted for its concentration of “rag-pickers” (those who sort garbage looking for items to recycle and sell). In this neighborhood, PCI opened a vocational training center for girls in 2002 to give them skills that might allow them to find alternative sources of income besides rag-picking. PCI now offers training in dress making/tailoring, cosmetology and traditional henna painting, and art. In addition, PCI offers computer training in all four of its facilities for youth and has recently opened new facilities for computer training thanks to its partnership with the Etasha Society. Overall, PCI helps to create employment opportunities for about 700 young women each year who attend the vocational training center. PCI also helps young women wishing to attend university to apply and meet the necessary qualifications. Many of the young, poor women of New Seemapuri (a predominantly Muslim community) are unable to overcome family resistance to their leaving home and PCI helps these women find other options for post-secondary education, including correspondence courses through the Indira Gandhi National Open University.