Private organizations all over the world are trying their utmost to tackle the grave issue of an estimated 120 million street children. One of which is celebrating the International Day of the Street Child, so to give these children a platform where their voice can be heard.
International Day of the Street Child: How it Began
The day was launched in 2011 by the Consortium of Street Children (CSC), a leading global association which was initiated by NGOs worldwide and has been working for the rights of the street children for the past two decades. Although it has still not been recognized by the UN, the International Day of the Street Child is celebrated on 12th April by street children and all those who support their cause in more than a 130 countries. For the past 5 years, continuous efforts are being made; because having an official day dedicated to street children will ensure that they will get their rights and the support that they deserve. This year’s theme is ‘Right to Identity’, whose aim is to change the way people perceive these children and to draw attention to their capabilities.
Celebrating the International Day of the Street Child in Pakistan
It is observed in Pakistan as well, where different activities take place in order to bring the civil society together to make a collective effort in trying to solve the problem. This year it was celebrated with great conviction. An impressive Rally was organized by DevCon while Azad Foundation was at the forefront with various events.
Rally by DevCon
DevCon is an NGO in Sindh, which for the past two decades has been working to empower the ignored segment of the society by fighting for their rights to education, health, justice and provision of basic necessities.
The rally started from Zainab Market and ended outside the Karachi Press Club. The objective was to create more public awareness and to urge the Government of Sindh to implement the Child Protection Authority Act in order to fortify the protection of vulnerable children.
Over 80 people participated, which included representatives of the Foundation for Research and Human Development (FRHD), Child Rights Movement (CRM), AWARE (Association for Water, Applied Education & Renewable Energy) Foundation, Destination Unknown (which is an international campaign for displaced children), Pakistan Fisher Folk as well as many street children.
Events Planned by the Azad Foundation
The Azad Foundation is the first association in Pakistan that began helping street children. In 1998 a group of teachers, students and alumni of the University of Karachi got together with the objective of working for the benefit of children, but upon learning the plight of those who were on the streets they channeled all their energies in assisting these children and to provide them with a better future. The foundation’s motto is “a world where no child has to live and/or work on streets”.
A number of events took place at the University of Karachi on 11th April:
Panel Discussion held at Department of Social Sciences (Arts Auditorium)
An in depth discussion took place about the problems that children on the streets faced every day the major one being ‘lack of identity’, what mental and physical impact these have on them and what could be the possible solutions. The panel consisted of Mr. Naveed Hasan Khan (CEO of Azad Foundation), Mr. Rehan Hashmi (MNA), Mr. Mahmood Jaffery (High Court Lawyer) as well as Chairpersons, Dean and Head of departments such as; criminology, psychology and social sciences.
Some of the panel members, the Azad Foundation team, students from different departments and the Street Child Football team walked from the Arts Lobby to UBL.
For the first time the street theatre performed at the Arts Lobby. It was entitled “Main Kaun Hun?” which depicted the life of street children and how they cannot even claim their basic rights.
At Other Venues on 12th April
Arts & Crafts Event near Abdullah Shah Ghazi’s Shrine
Ninety street children participated in this activity which was organized to showcase their creative abilities. The Pakistan Street Child Football team was also present.
Signing of a Petition at Dolmen City Mall, Karachi
A campaign was initiated to demand that ‘identity’ be given to the street children through legalization. The young Pakistani team, who returned victorious from the Street Child Games 2016, used their star power in motivating people to sign the petition for children like themselves. Thereby it received a positive response by nearly all the visitors.
If you would also like to show your support for the street children, you can sign the petition here www.azadfoundation.org/petition.php
So it is really heartening to see the positive work being done by the citizens of Karachi for the betterment of the society!