People First Educational Charitable Trust - Gaya Rescue Junction

Project Brief: Railway-Children Rescue: Care and education for street-children living on the platforms of Gaya station, Bihar, India.
Project Type: Special Needs (description)
Primary Focus: other (description)

Secondary Focus: girls

Area: Rural
Supporting Chapter Contact: Silicon Valley
Status: current / ongoing
Project Steward: Pratyush Gupta
Project Partner(s): Nick Hansen
Other Contacts: Arvind Mallikarjuna
Project Address: , People First, Gyan Vikas Centre, Nr Magadh University,,,
BIHAR  824231
Tel: 0631-220-312
Stewarding Chapter: Silicon Valley
Sep 2017Silicon ValleyUSD 19342
Mar 2016Silicon ValleyUSD 4160
Sep 2014Silicon ValleyUSD 4578
Jan 2014Silicon ValleyUSD 4405
Apr 2013Silicon ValleyUSD 5904
Oct 2012Silicon ValleyUSD 5720
Mar 2010Silicon ValleyUSD 19392
Jul 2009Silicon ValleyUSD 18750
Dec 2008Silicon ValleyUSD 14649

Total = $96900

Rescue Junction, the railway children rescue project run by People First, provides care and education for street-children living on the platforms of Gaya station in Bihar, India.

Project Objectives:

The primary aim of Rescue Junction is to provide a safety net to the street children and prevent them from being subjected to child-abuse and child-trafficking. It provides education and support and counseling 24 hrs a day to the rescued children, and those in conflict with the law. It also reunites lost children with their families and has a full time child protection and legal services officer to help the vulnerable children. Further, the project strives to raise awareness of the plight of these children, and increase the involvement of local people, government, and the international community

Need for the project:
There is a dire need for programs working towards the welfare of street children in Bihar. Bihar is one of India’s poorest and most lawless states and civil administration is dysfunctional. Further, most aid agencies have pulled out of Bihar because of the dangerous conditions. In the district of Gaya, hundreds of street-children live on and around the station platforms. The children end up on the platforms due to a number of reasons. Some of them are orphaned children. Few are kids who have runaway from their homes due to abuse. Others are children separated from their kin during travel or because of kidnapping which is quite rampant in Bihar. The children on the railway platforms survive by begging, scavenging and rubbish-collecting. These children are at great risk from violence and abuse, including child-prostitution and trade in organs for transplants. Some of them also get involved in drug related activities. There is little or no government help for these children. Apart from People First, there is no other organization working with these children.

The Junction is already operational in Gaya with a school and a small emergency shelter near the station. It provides a night shelter, washrooms, safe storage for their possessions, basic education and health care and vocational training to the rescued children. Many of the children, due to their difficult life on the platforms, initially find it hard to trust the staff or live in the confines of the rescue home. So Rescue Junction employs counselors trained in treating abuse related victims to help the children develop the trust and confidence. The project also provides legal services to the kids who were involved in juvenile crime and were locked under barbaric conditions in remand homes.

The Staff also interacts with the police, railway authorities and local people to try to enhance child protection. The Staff makes a very serious effort to locate the parents of children who were accidentally separated from them. This endeavor by Rescue Junction has been widely lauded by the government, local police and media.

The immediate beneficiaries of this project will be around 200 children (aged 5 and upwards) living in or immediately around Gaya station, increasing to 1000+ children as facilities and services are established. People First has no religious or political affiliation and no such criteria is used while placing a child in the rescue homes.

Project Development:
Three organizations, including UNICEF, were consulted during the projects development. Evaluations have also been undertaken to compile a baseline survey to ascertain the nature of the problems the children face and the best ways to address them. The project has been able to win the trust and support of local people living around the station.

Funding request:
Over a third of all children who come through the centre are girls, a vulnerable group. Currently children of both gender are housed in a single house that is overcrowded. People First, is seeking funding to construct a dedicated girl’s dormitory with a bathroom and employ 2 female counselors to provide support and advice to these youngsters in a safe and supportive environment.

Site Visit:
Asha, Silicon Valley, has conducted a site visit to Rescue Junction in Sept 08 and has concluded that this project deserves to be fully supported.
People First based in Bodhgaya started its work in 1992 in the village of Piani, in Jharkhand India. Visiting the desperately poor village the founding members, Deepak Kumar and Nick Hansen were moved by the sight of a small child sitting on old sacking with a few school books outside the government village school waiting for a teacher who never came. A school was started and with that simple beginning People First was born. The organization employs over 70 people (nearly all are service providers).

The Trust now focuses on education, healthcare, child protection and welfare, women's rights and poverty alleviation.