“I am happy to provide awareness about important social issues.” – Kiran, Youth Volunteer, Jagran Club
India is the seventh most populous country in the world, inhabited by 1.2 billion people — approximately 1 million of whom are children who live on the streets in New Delhi, Kolkata, and Mumbai. Most of these children end up on the streets due to family conflicts. They then become responsible for taking care of themselves and are consequently not given proper education or safety conditions.
It’s easy to believe that there is support for these children in existence. Sadly, though, the only real help for them comes from smaller groups and organizations. One of them is the Jagran Club of Kolkata, whose members are mostly teenagers. Their mission is to help street children survive and become good people.
When I first talked to Sahil and Kiran, I had no idea that they were just 18 and 16 years old respectively. The way they speak about the purpose of the club, their daily activities, and their challenges was so powerful and passionate. The Jagran Club was founded in 2013 and started by providing games and educational support, but as it has continued, the club lives to spread joy and hope. In Sahil’s own words: “You can give up on anything but hope, because if you give up on hope, how do you plan to achieve anything?”
Members of the Jagran Club organize play sessions every Sunday for different groups of street children, ages 3-16. The club focuses on activities that enable these children to build life skills. One of them is Hathi ka bacha or “Elephant’s Child”, which works to show the importance of unity.
It can be a lot of work to manage the responsibility of an active Play for Peace club. But Kiran and Sahil have found passion and purpose in leading others.
“I am happy to provide awareness about important social issues,” Kiran said. “I remember seeing life in the street. Early child marriages and children suffering from addiction.” Her work with Play for Peace has inspired her to work toward becoming a social worker, specializing in the development of children in slum areas.
Though the club has been around for five years and continues to spread its influence, it still needs a lot of material, energy, and other resources to bring the best out of its purpose. The group is currently searching for a workspace, as all the activities are hosted outside, and club planning sessions are done when classroom space or a safe spot in the park is found.
The Jagran Club continues to bring hope to children in its community. This hope is not an outcome of just words, but of very devoted and unconditional work. Jagran continues to operate on its motto, “Work – Not Words” and continues to change the lives of children all over India.