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Waiting for Tomorrow
A study of Vulnerable children in Mumbai
The discussion with Unicef and other NGOs lead to a need to develop a serious distinction between a range of vulnerable children and developing specific interventions suited to those children. UNICEF and the Ministry of Welfare ( Government of Maharashtra) commissioned SPARC to undertake a study of four categories of vulnerable children.
We identified four sets of children. Two within families and two sets on their own.
These were:
Street children.
Hotel workers who were children
Children of Pavement Dwellers
Children of Construction workers.
While the report has details about all the children, we only focus on the street children and the findings related to them. Many uses now emerge from this study, but it remains the main back drop to how we began to understand vulnerability, to begin to develop insights into what needs to be done, and began to develop a relationship with young people.
It is now over ten years since we did the study but its process and concepts remain a valuable benchmark for what we do even today.
It told us that all children develop vulnerability due to poor habitat conditions, but these are exacerbated when a child lives by himself. It explained that cities have to develop a relationship with its vulnerable population as traditional interventions by the state such as institutional care are falling apart. It highlighted that children are most vulnerable against the police, against illness, and their occupational choices are very limited when they start their lives on the street.
We realised that the spirit that brings these children away from their homes is an independent and powerful one which does not accept a beating or oppression. Yet living on the streets with all its flaws gives them skills which must be nurtured to work to their advantage. but who will do that and how?
The details fo the findings of this report are also published in an article in Urbanisation and Environment published by IIED UK. Patel, Sheela, "Street children, hotels boys and children of pavement dwellers and construction workers in Bombay: how they meet their daily needs", Environment and Urbanization Vol. 2, No. 2, October 1990, pp. 9-26
For a copy of the report contact us.

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