Althea Saldanha

Founder and President
She uses nearly 20 years of experience in management, analysis and engineering at Fortune 500 companies in managing the foundation and creating effective programs and processes.

Vicki Lokken-Paverud

Treasurer and Vice President

She leverages over 20 years of professional experience with community social services, private non-profit and government agencies to ensure that the most useful programs and services are created for our partners.

what we believe

No need is too small and no voice is too quiet to be heard. We will devote the time and energy necessary to educate, advocate and support.

our leadership team

current project partner

Allan Saldanha

Public Relations and Vice President

His professional career spans over five decades across industries including Petrochemicals, Pharmaceuticals, Retail and Fisheries.  He co-administers the Indian chapter of the foundation and serves as a strategic, financial, educational advisor and mentor to partners.

Cynthia Saldanha
Secretary and Vice President

She has considerable experience working with non-profit agencies over the last 40 years and has co-founded free medical clinics.  She co-administers the Indian chapter of the foundation and serves as a social services advisor to partners.

recent programs

Our employable skills program at St. Catherine's provide high school graduates with vocational training  to enable gainful employment.

A 501(c)(3) charitable organization

WHY street kids in India

  • India is the second most populous country in the world, with over 1.21 billion people (2011 census), more than a sixth of the world's population.
  • Nearly 29% of the population live in urban areas, with dramatic growth of slums and shanty towns.
  • An average of 50% of the urban population live in conditions of extreme deprivation - compounded by lack of access to basic services and legal housing and poor urban governance.
  • UNICEF’s estimate of 11 million street children in India in 1994 is considered to be conservative. There are an estimated 100,000 – 125,000 street children each in Mumbai, Kolkata and Delhi, with 45,000 in Bangalore.
     

This organization was founded on November 7, 1957 with 23 children. Today, the facility houses 350 children along with 15 residential support staff. The school provides elementary education to an additional 20-50 day students from neighboring areas.


Since the children at the school have lived with abuse, poverty, violence and child labor issues during their formative years, the services provided at the school include extensive psychological counseling, drama therapy as well as social and knowledge skills training.


The organization is registered and tax exempt in India.  

volunteering

Many people volunteer for us each year and make the difference in the lives of hundreds of kids. Find out how to become a supporter.

The Face of an Angel Foundation



street children and the challenges they face


The term ‘street children’ is hotly debated across the world. Some say it is negative – that it labels and stigmatizes children. Others say it gives children an identity and a sense of belonging. It can include a very wide range of children who are homeless, work on the streets but sleep at home, either do or do not have family contact, work in open-air markets, live on the streets with their families, live in day or night shelters or spend a lot of time in institutions (e.g. prison). The term ‘street children’ is used because it is short and widely understood. In reality, street children defy such convenient generalizations because each child is unique.


Street children are not easy to count because they move around a lot, within and between cities, they are often excluded from ‘statistic-friendly’ infrastructures (schools, households etc.) and definitions of ‘street children’ are vague and differing. Numbers of 'street children' have often been deliberately exaggerated and misquoted in order to sensationalize and victimize these children. Street children have the right to be accurately represented. City-level surveys conducted by local organizations and supported by a clear definition are more reliable. In many countries, there is anecdotal evidence that numbers are increasing, due to uncontrolled urbanisation (linked to poverty), conflict and children being orphaned by AIDS. Most statistics are just estimates e.g. Kenya: 250,000; Ethiopia: 150,000; Zimbabwe: 12,000; Bangladesh: 445,226; Nepal: 30,000; India: 11 million (these are based on broad definitions of ‘street children’).


In general there are fewer girls than boys actually living on the streets (studies indicate between 3% and 30% depending on the country). This is for several reasons. In many cultures, there is much greater pressure for girls to stay at home than boys. Research shows that girls will put up with abuse at home for longer periods of time than boys but that once girls make the decision to leave home, the rupture is more permanent than for boys. Girls are also less visible on the streets as they are often forced or lured into brothels. Even though there are fewer street-living girls than boys, they are extremely vulnerable to human rights abuses both on the street and when they are arrested. However, it is important to note that street boys are also at risk of sexual abuse and exploitation just as much as girls.


Relatively few street children are actually orphans (although these numbers are increasing in some countries due to AIDS). The majority of street children are still in contact with their families and/or extended families. Many of them work on the streets in order to contribute to their family’s income. Those who run away often do so because of physical, psychological and/or sexual violence or abuse at home. Family breakdown is also common in the case of re-marriage and problems with step-parents. Importantly, many projects try to reunify street children with their families. However, this is a complex and frustrating task that requires much specialised counselling to address the root causes why the child ran away in the first place. Unfortunately, in many cases, reunification with the family fails, or is not in the best interests of the child. In these cases, alternatives such as fostering, group homes and residential centres are needed. Street children are rarely alone, even if they have no family contact: “Here we do not have any kind of blood relation with each other. But when we are in the street with other friends, though we do not have any name for our relation, we are like a family. We are all actually members of our street family.” [Street Diary, Save the Children Fund -UK Nepal, 2001]


Ironically, street children are often at greatest risk of violence from those that are responsible to protect them – the police and other authorities. Police often beat, harass, sexually assault and even torture street children. They may beat children for their money or demand payment for protection, to avoid false charges, or for release from custody. They may seek out girls to demand sex. For many street children,assaults and thefts by the police are a routine part of their lives. Some are even killed by police. Very rarely are those responsible brought to justice. Many images and stories portray street children either as helpless victims, dangerous criminals or heroic survivors. The reality is usually somewhere in between. They show incredible resiliency and initiative in the face of desperate circumstances. Street children have to be resourceful and strong in order to survive however, some do not survive. Others can only do so by breaking the law and it is important that their individual stories and characteristics are recognized and respected. Each child is unique.


Source: Consortium for Street Children, http://streetchildren.org/