Children need support for their growth, both physical and mental and at the same time channelizing them in the correct direction so that their talents are correctly tapped. It is very important for a country like India, which has a population of 1.2 billion of which 39% are Children, to understand the needs of children and guide them accordingly. It is so very critical to understand that if a child grows, under proper guidance, to a knowledgeable youth, only then will he/she will grow as a good citizen of the country.
Balaknama – A Newspaper by Children of Chetna NGO
Poor children who cannot help themselves neither can they be supported by their parents are deprived of basic amenities as well. But for organizations like – Childhood Enhancement through training and Action (CHETNA), they get a chance to showcase their talent and also become inspiration for children like them. Founded in 2002 Chetna is a public charitable trust, which delegates the street children in a lot of ways. One of the main and focused points which they drive is “Education”.
Birth of “Balaknama”
With the aim to provide an identity to street children CHETNA formed a core team of 35 children and called them – Badte Kadam. These children initially tried to get support from people and organizations like print media, by sharing their daily painful sorrows, and horrifying real life stories. But they did not succeed, which resulted in the birth of their own newspaper – Balaknama!
The objective was hidden in the name itself – Voice of Children, made reachable to individuals, organizations and Government authorities, who can help or support them. The first edition was a quarterly affair and was just a two-page edition. Children between the ages of 12 years to 20 years, use to plan on actions to be taken for the month and use to follow the same. Slowly the edition became 4-page, then 8- page and today it is a 16-page monthly newspaper.
How Balaknama works ?
Today Balaknama, India’s only tabloid paper produced by street children, has an 18-year-old Editor, a team of reporters between 12 years to 20 years based at Delhi/ Haryana/ Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. Most of the reporters were appointed from the learning centers of “CHETNA”. Today they have 8000 copies monthly which are distributed to police and other NGOs free, who work for the rights of children. It explores and works on the issues of sexual abuse on children, child abuse, child labor, police brutality and success stories among street children.
Like any other publication they sit around 25th of every month and finalize the edition, the stories are finalized, the front page is decided and stories with pictures are also finalized. Reporters who cannot write, dictate their stories and the reporters who can write, take the dictation.
Not every newspaper vendor is provided with the edition as they are limited in number. It is circulated to only limited few including policemen in the local area and other NGOs in the region.
The reporters work here only after their school hours and are not paid for it. They are paid only after they attain an age of 20 years, that also on their choice. The objective of the newspaper is to get help for the street children, from the readers and this is a noble cause as the newspaper works on an “NO-PROFIT” basis.
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