Chandni's Story: India's Street Kid Reporters
Chandni is 16 years old and has been living on the streets since she was born. Her father died some years back and she lives with her mother and four siblings in a makeshift tent in Noida, on the outskirts of the Indian capital Delhi. Her mother sells sweetcorn in the market but doesn't earn enough to rent a proper home for Chandni and her brothers and sisters. When Chandni was 10, workers from the charity Badhte Kadam approached her on the street and told her they could help her go to school. Despite opposition from her family, she went to lessons and learned to read and write. She now is editor of Badhte Kadam's newspaper, Balaknama (Children's Voice), written by and for street kids. Balaknama has been running for 10 years and has a readership of around 5,000 -- mostly street children. The eight-page quarterly newspaper features stories on issues affecting children who live on the streets, under bridges and in shelters across northern India. According to Badhte Kadam there are around half a million street children in Delhi, with more arriving every day. The children are runaways, have been trafficked or come to the city with their impoverished rural parents in search of menial work.