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Street children saviour: Amit Sinha

EducationWorld May 12 | EducationWorld People

Amit SinhaAmit Sinha is the founder of Jamghat (estb. 2003), a Delhi-based NGO which works to rehabilitate children eking out precarious lives on the streets of Delhi. Currently, Jamghat (‘a gathering’) runs two shelter homes — Aman (for boys) and Aanchal (for girls)  — and a daycare centre Angan where 75 street children are provided shelter, formal and non-formal education, vocational training, food, healthcare, and counselling.

Newspeg. In February this year, a group of Jamghat children performed a play titled Parson ho na ho… (‘We may not see the day after tomorrow’) at Delhi’s Habitat Centre, to raise awareness about global warming. The play was factored into the annual event of the MaxIndia Foundation — a corporate social initiative of the Delhi-based multi-business group MaxIndia Ltd  —  which supports Jamghat’s daycare centre.

Genesis. Promoted a decade ago with a Rs.10,000 grant from Action Aid India, Jamghat staged its first play titled Patri pe bachpan (‘Childhood on the edges’), featuring 14 street children for Prince Charles, on a visit to India. Based on the personal experiences of the performers on the mean streets of Delhi, the play aroused strong emotions in Sinha. “After rehearsing for 20 days and winning acclaim for the final performance, we were determined the children shouldn’t go back to the streets. This is how Jamghat was born. We performed the same play in various public forums to raise funding for Jamghat. Since then, from a single room in Sunlight Colony, Delhi which sheltered 14 children, we now have three centres offering healthy and creative environments to 75 children,” says Sinha.

Born in Siwan (Bihar), Sinha came to Delhi in 2000 to enroll in a history programme at Delhi University. Unable to secure a college seat in his chosen programme, Sinha signed up for a correspondence course. With considerable time on his hands, he started working with a Delhi-based NGO Pravah as a professional theatre artist and acted in 300 stage productions focusing on environment preservation.

Direct talk. “This is when I got interested in the development sector and stayed on to work with Pravah as a volunteer for its project Smile. Eventually, writing and directing Patri pe bachpan kindled in me a desire to do something special for street children. We source our funds from donors including corporates, individuals and foreign contributors and under our income-generating project Ekjut, we train older children to make eco-friendly products such as jute and paper bags, wallets and other hand-made products for sale,” says Sinha.

Future plans. Despite his success with Jamghat, Sinha is well aware that the NGO provides shelter, support and education to a mere 75 children in Delhi, which has 51,000 children living on its streets. “Right now, my focus is on offering best opportunities for a better future to the children we have with us currently. We are expecting many more people and organisations to support our cause to ultimately help India’s 18 million homeless street children evolve as physically and emotionally healthy, independent individuals, living lives of their choice,” he says.

Wind beneath your wings!

Swati Roy (Delhi)

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