Balaknama is an outcome of neglect and injustice to street and working children across the world. When children did not find space among adults, they decided to pen down their issues and glories, an attempt to change people’s perception and ensuring identity, dignity, and participation of street children.
I was a ragpicker. I attended CHETNA’s residential workshop. My leadership skills were recognized and I was asked to be a batuni reporter. I did not know how to read or write. As a batuni reporter , I now collect stories from the streets, about what is happening in the lives of children living on the streets, what their wants and demands are. I am also slowly learning how to read and write. Balaknama has not only changed my life, it has also given me the fire to fight for child rights.
I worked at a dye-punch workhouse, sold fruits and dragged thelas (carts). Being a girl, belonging to a conservative family, it was difficult for me to take a step out, and do something I wanted to; something that my childhood owed to me. Taking my journey from a batuni reporter to the advisor of Balaknama, my sense of empowerment drives my work. Balaknama produces leaders. It gives children the command to put forth their views and be acknowledged in the society. Particularly for girls, whose voices are often suppressed, Balaknama is an endeavour which can turn their lives upside down.
I grew up as a child labourer, subject to utter harassment and abuse. I didn’t even know what a newspaper was. After I associated with Balaknama, I am a person I had never dreamt I could be. I started as a batuni reporter and am now the editor of Balaknama. By virtue of Balaknama, our voices are reaching the society, police and government officials. I want the lives of many others to change, like mine did.