Hamara Foundation was initially established as “Hamara Club” meaning “Our Club” as the field action project of Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) by Prof. Asha Rane, in July 1989 in response to the emerging problem concerning the street children in Mumbai. Since 2002, it has been functioning independently as an NGO.
The presence of Street children is an urban phenomenon all over the world today. The problems surrounding street children are growing in big cities and towns as a consequence of the growth in size and complexities of cities. The accelerating processes of urbanization, rural-urban migration, globalization and family disintegration have caused many social problems including that of marginalized children.
Studies on street children in several cities in India highlight the magnitude of this problem. In the city of Mumbai alone there are 2 lakh children on the street. They are mainly boys in the formative group of 10 to 15 years and most of them are illiterates and school dropouts.
Among the broad category of marginalized children, a group of street children stands out due to their specific characteristics and lifestyle
- Street children are an extremely vulnerable group because of the way they are forced to live homeless on the streets.
- They are roofless, rootless and alienated from the society.
- They grow up on the margins of the society without love, care, protection and supervision of adults.
- Moreover, they are deprived of their basic rights of survival, protection, development and participation.
- They have to fend for themselves for their own survival and sometimes for the survival of their family as well.
- Civic amenities like latrines and bathing facilities are beyond their reach.
- Malnutrition and hunger is widespread among them.
- Due to constant exposure to the unhealthy conditions of living on the streets, children suffer from a range of ailments.
- Owing to the lack of guardian control over their lives children indulge in various addictions like smoking, sniffing glue, and Xerox solutions leaving them debilitated.
- Street children become the victims of the sub-culture of the street: drug abuse, gambling, drinking, vagrancy, thieving and prostitution. They are high-risk group for HIV/AIDS.
- Street children are subjected to harassment and eviction by the municipal authorities because of their unauthorized occupation of city roads and vacant places. Street children are also
- They are victims of physical and sexual abuse.
Lack of an access to basic services of shelter, health care, education and training, lack or alternative livelihood options, lack of societal acceptance and legal status (for want of ration cards) are the major issues of street children. The problem of street children is multifaceted and needs to be understood in proper perspective. Professional social work intervention strategies are necessary to address their needs and problems.