I had a stint of 20 days in the month of October 2010 at Snehalaya Don Bosco, Guwahati. The agency works for the rehabilitation and reintegration of children in distress. During these few days, I got a chance to experience and understand working with children. I visited most of the residential centres of the agency and was involved in giving non-formal education to the children in one of the centres.
I had a wonderful experience and learned some ways to talk and encourage the children to utilise the opportunities that they have. One of the things that I liked about the agency was the strategy adopted in bringing the children from street to a stable home. The children rescued from the street are invited to experience the life in Snehalaya. The first stage is to motivate them to experience the facilities in the centre. Such facility is provided in Drop-In Centre/Shelter Home where they can spend their time learning and enjoying the facilities like watching television and listening to music. It has minimum rules and minimum facilities. When the children are found to be really interested in staying with the agency and get education or vocational training, they are sent to the residential homes of Snehalaya.
This experience made me reflect on the principles of Social Work profession. The principle of Self-determination was applied while working with the children. They are given the opportunity to learn and realise their self-worth. It is up to them to decide what they wish to do and what not. They are given guidance to choose the right direction.
During interaction with the Director of the agency, it was found that there is a lack of space for accommodating the children in the homes. The children who were supposed to be transferred from the shelter home to the residential place were not shifted because of this reason. It made me wonder why this is so. A small city like Guwahati is rapidly growing. On the other hand, the needy and voiceless people are increasing. The flyovers are increasing but not enough footpaths, more flats and houses but more homelessness. If the state is a guardian of the society, then why is that there is not enough place for needy children to get a shelter. Is the increasing non-governmental organisations to be blamed making the state to be dependant on them?. I still wonder why there are no proper independent institutions of a government for rehabilitating the most vulnerable section of the society – the Children.