Organisations active in India

Foundation Friends of Navajeevan
Coxlaan 40
1695 HH Blokker
Tel:0229 - 243 173
Bank a/c:91.55.840 in name of Vrienden van Navajeevan, IJmuiden

Five young Dutch youth have worked for short or extended periods as volunteers for Navajeevan Bala Bhavan, a project for the well being of street children in Vijayawada, a city in South India.

Touched by the harsh and difficult life of the many street and working children and, as a result of their work, a bond of friendship was developed with the children and staff of Navajeevan. They have decided to support the cause of Navajeevan and where possible enhance the future for the countless street children in and around Vijayawada. As a result the five Dutch youth started the Foundation Friends of Navajeevan with the aim to provide financial support to Navajeevan, by raising funds in the Netherlands.

Navajeevan was founded in 1989 by the Salesians of Don Bosco in co-operation with the Panchayat (community council) of Vijayawada. Navajeevan has grown from the first shelter (Bala Bhavan) to a mature organisation with a number of accommodations. Besides that the organisation provides non-institutional help like emotional counseling and making contacts with children on the street.

At present contact has been made with 10,500 children. About 600 children are provided with meals three times a day. The aim of Navajeevan is to create a place where children can live in a homely atmosphere and where they find respect and love. Loving foster parents, healthy food, physical and medical care and education are the foundations of this aim. Besides that a lot of effort is applied towards the emotional well being of the children by means of personal interviews and counseling by the social workers of the project. Navajeevan is a project for boys in the age of 5 to 20 years old. Girls are accommodated with other projects in Vijayawada.

When contact is made with a new child, the first action is an attempt to send the child back to his home, with his parents or other family members. However, for many boys this is not an option anymore. So Navajeevan provides the child the opportunity to get education on the project itself or at a school in the neighbourhood. Also there is the possibility for the boys to get a technical training at Navajeevan, where they can learn the skills towards being an electrician, carpenter, tailor or mechanic. This helps them get off the streets and to independently find work in the city.

An important feature at Navajeevan is the participation of the boys themselves. The older boys very often get the responsibility for coaching the activities and also carry out parts of the care for the younger boys. This way they can both help and learn a lot from each other. The boys at Yuva Bhavan (14+) run their home almost independently.

At this moment the final stage of the building of the children’s village 'Chiguru' (young sprout) is at hand. In a beautiful green environment outside the city, where the boys can work on their development in a peaceful and quiet atmosphere, without being lured by the temptations that the city forces upon them, (cinema, computer games, liquor, tobacco, drugs, etc), a beautiful little community emerges with little cottages for children (below 14 years of age) and their supervisors. At the present moment about 200 children live there.

Bala Vikasa Kendram (BVK) was founded in 1997, especially for the working child. The aim of BVK is the creation of a child friendly environment and a higher goal being the eradication of child labour. BVK helps the existing child labourers from exploitation and misuse. Also BVK provides education, medical help, recreation and supplemental food to the children. The children also fight for their rights and discuss their situation and problems in youth clubs, supported by Bala Vikasa Kendram.

In 1996 Navajeevan received the 'National Award for Child Welfare’, awarded on a yearly basis to an organisation that shows innovative work for the well being of children. This is an important acknowledgement of the good work of Navajeevan.

In Vijayawada there are about 25.000 street children. Because Vijayawada is an important railway junction, it is a place where street children easily arrive. On avarage, every single day about 10 to 12 children arrive this station. Fortunately most of these children are intercepted by the Navajeevan team. They try to contact their families and if possible send the children back home. At the end of 2001, 80% of newly arrived children were successfully returned to their home.

From the Indian Government Navajeevan receives a small support in the form of discounts when buying rice. For the rest Navajeevan runs on gifts, partly from within India and for a big part from sponsors in Europe like Stichting Kinderpostzegels and Cordaid in the Netherlands. Navajeevan is also depending on people like you, who like to support the work with a financial gift.

Photo's by courtesy of Foundation Friends of Navajeevan.