One of our tour group’s activities while in Delhi was to visit a Home for Boys, which we did early one winter morning. The air was cool and crisp as we stepped off our bus and most of us zipped up our jackets. We were met by one of the older boys from the home. He greeted us and gave a brief history of the home before guiding us through the streets to visit it. While I think the purpose of the walk was largely to let us see what life on these streets could be like, it would be impossible for any vehicle larger than a tuk-tuk to have navigated the maze we entered.
The Salaam Baalak Trust (SBT) Home for Boys is a charitable trust that helps homeless street children in Delhi and Mumbai, especially those with no families (or who ran away from their families because their lives there had been unbearable). SBT started in 1988 and currently has over 140 employees who have positively affected the lives of over 50,000 children. SBT has been recognized with numerous awards and has many international sponsors that support its work.
There are five full time care shelters for children; 2 are for girls and 3 for boys. Children are provided with food, medicine, education, a place to sleep and other essentials. Perhaps more importantly SBT protects them from street crime, sexual abuse and exploitation. Many get an education, some even end up going to university, and the goal is to help them move on to productive lives. To a large extent, SBT is successful at helping lost souls build a meaningful existence.
So off we headed to the shelter for boys. One thing about walking in Delhi — I’ve never seen a filthier city, with piles of trash everywhere. It smells about as good as you’d think. Soon we were working our way through older and narrowing streets and lanes, with small businesses selling the items of every day life.
I remain endlessly fascinated with the wiring in Delhi, and that it actually works. Below are some photos of these pasta-like masses that we encountered on this walk. The streets grew narrower as the buildings seemed to grow older.
We entered a large common room, where the resident boys wandered in and out. Many were quite excited to meet a group of white strangers, and most spoke some English so that we could communicate. Some of the boys were shy though others were clearly extroverts. All wore clean (though worn) clothes, and seemed reasonably happy. We spent a half hour chatting with them and taking photos. They enjoyed posing for our photos, then viewing them on our LCD displays. It was a pleasant visit. We left their leader with a cash gift when we departed.
Our guide answered any questions we had about our visit as he continued to lead us through the streets of Delhi to where our bus was waiting for us. Here are some of the sights I photographed during this part of our walk.
The last portion of the walk was through a market area, where some very photogenic produce was on display. As many of you know I love markets and photographing them, and I was in my element.
A memorable visit, and as we rode on the bus I had time to reflect on how truly fortunate we are to have the prosperity and safe lives we have. I thought about the importance of helping those in need. I’ve supported many charities in my life, but usually that is usually with an anonymous and impersonal gift. I saw the need to personally involve myself in the lives of those who might want my help.
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