Street children and street youngsters can be found in a large majority of the world's cities, with the phenomenon more prevalent in densely populated urban hubs of developing or economically unstable regions, such as the country of India.
The photographer Kristian Bertel is documenting the lives of the street youth in India in this blog post covering the theme with a harrowing portrait of a homeless youngster located at the Hazarimal Somani Rd in Mumbai, India.
Street youths in Mumbai street
Some street youths, notably in more developed nations, are part of a subcategory called thrownaway children who are children that have been forced to leave home. Thrown-away children are more likely to come from single-parent homes. India has an estimated one million or more street children in each of the following cities which are New Delhi, Kolkata formerly known as Calcutta and Mumbai. When considering India as a whole, there are over eleven million children who earn their living off the streets in cities and rural areas. It is more common for street children to be male and the average age is fourteen. Although adolescent girls are more protected by families than boys are, when girls do break the bonds they are often worse off than boys are, as they are lured into prostitution. The Republic of India is the seventh-largest and second-most populated country in the world. Due to the acceleration in economic growth, an economic rift has appeared, with just over thirty-two percent of the population living below the poverty line. Owing to unemployment, increasing rural-urban migration, the attraction of city life, and a lack of political will, India has developed one of the largest child labor forces in the world.
A child running away from home ends on the street in most situations. As the children are getting older they become homeless street youngsters and part of the Indian street youth. In this photo we see a youngster photographed during his sleep on the pavement at the Hazarimal Somani Rd in Mumbai.
One hundred million street children in the world
Street children is used as a catch-all term, but covers children in a wide variety of circumstances and with a wide variety of characteristics. Policymakers and service providers struggle to describe and assist such a sub-population. Individual girls and boys of all ages are found living and working in public spaces, and are visible in the great majority of the world's urban centers. Street children can be found in a large majority of the world's cities, with the phenomenon more prevalent in densely populated urban hubs of developing or economically unstable regions, such as the country of India. The latest estimates put the numbers of these children as high as one hundred million worldwide. The exact number of street children is impossible to quantify, but the figure almost certainly runs into tens of millions across the world. It is likely that the numbers are increasing. The one hundred million figure is still commonly cited for street children, but has no basis in fact. Similarly, it is debatable whether numbers of street children are growing globally, or whether it is the awareness of street children within societies that has grown.
Harrowing portrait of an Indian youngster seen at the Hazarimal Somani Rd over several days by the photographer, when he was documenting the life conditions of the indian street children and the Indian street youth in Mumbai.
Causes of the Indian street youth
The street children in India choose to leave their families and homes for strategic reasons. Three hypotheses have been put forth in an attempt to explain their choices which are urban poverty, aberrant families and urbanization. Evidence can to some degree support all three of these hypotheses. In one study of 1,000 street children living in Bombay conducted in 1990, thirtynine percent of street children said they left home because of problems and fights with family, twentyone percent said they left because of family poverty, and three and a half percent said that they wanted to see the city. The street children and children running away from home are connected. A child running away from home ends on the street in most situations. There is lot of data available on why children run away, revealing many reasons for doing so. Some reasons are simple, some complex. Some time the reasons are because of the child's behavior, and some times the cause s are because of parents. A child not going to school or not doing home work and thus fearing beatings, is very common cause. A child stealing money, fighting with siblings are reasons too.
Most children leave their families
Most children leave their families to live on the street because of family problems. Family problems include such things as death of a parent, alcoholism of father, strained relationships with stepparents, parent separation, abuse, and family violence. Additionally, street children usually come from female-headed households. Most children who leave home to live on the streets come from slums or low cost housing, both which are areas of high illiteracy, drug use, and unemployment. Children usually transfer their lives to the streets through a gradual process, they may at first only stay on the street a night or two. Gradually they will spend more time away from home until they do not return. Once on the streets, children sometimes find that their living conditions and physical and mental health is better than at home. However, this fact speaks to the poor conditions of their homes rather than good conditions in the street. Street conditions are far from child-friendly. Once they leave home, many street children move around often because of the fear that their relatives will find them and force them to return home.
Children usually transfer their lives to the streets through a gradual process, they may at first only stay on the street a night or two. Gradually they will spend more time away from home until they do not return. This Indian street boy was photographed holding a baby child in his arms in Mumbai, India.
Something can be done to help street children
The Hope Foundation is an organisation that is dedicated to promoting the protection of street and slum children primarily in Kolkata formerly known as Calcutta and the most underprivileged in India, where they promote immediate and lasting change in their lives. Through education alone, this charity organisation has reached out to almost 25,000 children.
Mukhopadhyay Foundation located in India is focusing on the building of peace, poverty eradication, lasting development with education for poor as one of its principal activities to achieve this aim. The Foundation is committed to provide safe shelter, food, health care and education through residential school with the belief that education plays a fundamental role in human social and economic development. Mukhopadhyay Foundation is worth to be mentioned in this blog post because it has been dedicated to protect all the rights of street and less privileged children.
Another organisation called LittleBigHelp is doing a difference for street children in India. They are running an open shelter near Howrah train station in Calcutta for twentyfive boys who are living on the street and on the platforms of the station. The rough everyday lives of these young boys consist of collecting bottles and other goods left on the trains to sell and earn a few rupees to survive. LittleBigHelp offer the street children a safe alternative to the perils of the street and the station with shelter, protection, education, food, medical care, and a place to simply just be a child. Many of the boys are addicted to sniffing glue and have suffered horrific experiences in their lives and they work to secure them a better and safer future off the street and to find them a better alternative.
Let them be heard on Twitter
Use the hashtag #TweetForTheStreet and let the voices of the street children and street youth be heard on Twitter by telling the stories and the events regarding this topic.
Photo essays and humanitarian photography
The purpose of the street photos is to document the life conditions in India. Kristian Bertel, a dedicated and traveling photographer, is seeking out faces that have a story for instance with the street children and Indian street youth in India, children and youngsters that are mostly concentrated in the streets with traffic and even before the traffic lights and the dimming, with their things they want to sell. It is the fervent hope of the street children that people will buy what they have to sell. Through many years as a photographer and documentarian, he has captured photos of severe cultural topics that has been of interest for the photographer. His imagery has been shown as photo essays online, documenting many aspects of the daily life particularly in India. He works as a photographer and he is available for editorial assignments all over Europe, Asia, Africa and in the Middle East. For further information and inquiries please:
Contact the photographer
More photographs from India
If you are interested to see more photos and imagery from India, you can see one of the slideshows, which also appears on the photographer's website.
See the slideshow | press here