New Delhi, July 9 (IANS) More than 200 street children from all over the capital came together Monday to celebrate the 10th birthday of 'Badhte Kadam', an organisation run for and by children who live and work on the streets.
The celebration at the Indian Social Institute (ISI) was with a twist as no political or bureaucratic bigwig was invited. Instead, the children chose their own chief guests, three of the 35 founding members of the organisation.
"Badhtey Kadam is a children's organisation, so we kept the celebration as a children-only program," said Sanjay Gupta of CHETNA, the parent organisation of 'Badhte Kadam'.
It is not that the children would have had difficulty dealing with adults. After spending a major part of their lives on the streets of the capital or working in a variety of workplaces, these children had more than enough experience of the grown-ups.
But the enthusiasm at being left to their own devices, was evident. The children came up on the stage, gave impromptu dance and singing performances, recited poems or simply shared their own experiences as the members of a children's organisation.
The only thing missing from this unique birthday celebration was a birthday cake.
"If we cut a cake here, it would have been unfair to our friends from outside Delhi," said Vijay, one of the young leaders of the children's body.
"Instead, we used the occasion to felicitate some of our oldest members who have been the part of the organisation since its conception," he added.
'Badhte Kadam' started as a group of 35 children in July 2002 and in 10 years, the organisation has grown to reach out to as many as 10,000 children across Delhi, Mathura, Agra, Jhansi and Gwalior.
Based in south Delhi's Gautam Nagar, the group acts as a liaison between the street and working children and various stakeholders such as the government agencies, NGOs and civil society besides reaching out to other street children and creating awareness about child rights.
The organisation also brings out a quarterly paper called 'Balaknama', edited and published entirely by street and working children.
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