Bal Mitra Mandal (BMM) or child friendly community, is a concept based on the flagship programme of KSCF — Bal Mitra Gram, functional in rural India — altered to suit the needs of children living in urban slums.

Launched in 2018, it is a sustainable, holistic and preventive intervention for child protection and development in urban slum communities so that every child is safe, free and educated.

problems

While most of the problems faced by children in urban slums communities are similar to those in rural areas, these children, along with child labour, child abuse, malnutrition, high drop-out rate and poor access to health care, also face a greater risk of substance abuse.

In urban areas schools are usually more accessible and enrolment is generally higher than in rural areas, the temptation to find small odd jobs to start earning is also high. As first-generation learners, these children get no academic support at home. Children in urban slum communities also face health issues due to pollution and sanitation.

Solutions

Build child-friendly urban slum communities – where every child is safe, free and educated by

  • Ensuring every child in the community is in school

  • Increasing children’s participation in the community by creating a Children's Council (Bal Panchayat) at the community level

  • Strengthening child protection mechanisms in the community

  • Eliminating all forms of exploitation of children in the community

  • Strengthening education systems to ensure quality education in community schools

  • Improving water, hygiene, sanitation, health, livelihood, and learning through partner NGOs Engaging the local community surrounding each slum through volunteer activities

How BMM Communities Function?

During the process of making a community child friendly, the different groups within a community viz. children, youth, women, elders, influencers and leaders, start listening to and respecting each other’s views, and start recognizing the detrimental issues that hamper the lives of marginalized groups in the community. Implementation of the BMM programme triggers an awareness raising process that could structurally and irreversibly change the mindsets of people living at the grassroots, often facing very difficult circumstances.

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KNOW OUR BMMs

Sanjay Camp, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi

Established around 40 years ago, Sanjay Camp comprises of over 2,500 households. Most of the members in the community are employed as construction labourers, drivers, domestic help, car cleaners, ice cream vendors, shopkeepers, garbage collectors, and similar jobs.

Major social problems in the area are lack of awareness, anxiety, depression and violence among the youth, along with drug addiction.

Indra Kalyan Vihar, Okhla, New Delhi

Located in one of the biggest industrial areas of Delhi, Okhla, Indra Kalyan Vihar Camp was established in 1980 and hoses over 4,000 families. Major occupations of the community members include skilled and unskilled labour, driving, working as house help, as car cleaners and others.

This slum, situated in industrial area, is exposed to downstream course of industrial waste residue leaving inhabitants highly exposed to pollution-borne diseases. Children seldom get early vaccination, increasing the incidence of polio, pneumonia, whooping and chronic cough and other respiratory diseases, given their proximity to industrial establishments and closeness to where the toxic waste is usually dumped. Thousands die annually due to these unhygienic and diseased dwelling conditions. Also, chronic paucity of resources in the household contributes to increasing marital stress, leading to domestic violence.

Israil camp in Rangpuri Pahari, Vasant Kunj, New Delhi

Established in 1950, situated behind some of the most high-end malls of the city, this slum consists of around 1,500 households. Scrap-picking, street-hawking, domestic work, driving, car cleaning, are among the most common occupations of the dwellers.

Inder camp in Rangpuri Pahari, Vasant Kunj, New Delhi

Inder Camp is also located in Rangpuri Pahari, adjacent to Israil Camp. This slum was also established in 1950 and houses over 1,200 families. People in this community work in neighbouring areas as labourers, drivers and domestic helpers.

The girls in this community do not get time for education as they are burdened with taking care of their younger siblings, doing household chores, carrying water from long distances and taking care of sick family members. With most houses lacking toilet facilities, people use community toilet, which becomes a problem for girls at night, as it increases the risk of sexual assault.

We work with over 15000 children in slums across Delhi to:

Emancipate

identify children at risk and eliminate all forms of violence

Educate

enrol children into school and mainstream into society

Empower

empower through rights awareness, rallies and Bal Panchayat

Enrich

enrich through activities, health and legal camps and exposure visits

Engage

strengthen through engagement of corporates, government, NGOs and volunteers

In a child-friendly community, every child is safe, free, healthy and educated

Public Particiaption through Rang Badlav Ke

  • More than 1,600 volunteers engaged during the Bal Mitra Mandal ‘Rang Badlav Ke’ (Paint the Change) event, including artists, writers, bloggers and photographers, to beautify the Sanjay Camp community in New Delhi and to tell inspiring stories.
  • 15,714 children are being protected from violence and exploitation on a daily basis and the school enrollment has gone up from 88% to 98%.
  • With the help of our complaint cell, we managed to find and repatriate two missing children in Indra Kalyan Vihar slum community.
  • Over 1,400 children in these communities learnt about democracy by electing 11 child leaders in each community for the Bal Panchayat (children’s council). The selected leaders advocate for children related issues in their community including safety and security of children, education, sanitation, and access to clean water.
  • Through partnership with 4 other NGOs, over 600 children have access to remedial education programmes and 50 children from Sanjay Camp have been enrolled in English learning programme at the American Embassy School.
  • With our intervention, Special Training Classes for dropout children have been started in these communities by New Delhi Municipal Council.
  • After organising children’s visits to nearby police stations to establish a friendly relationship between the law enforcement agency and the community, the police are taking active interest in the communities with regular visits by senior officials.
  • New school has been inaugurated in Indra Kalyan Vihar by Hon’ble Home Minister of India, Rajnath Singh and children of BMM.
  • The BMM team facilitated Aadhar enrolment in the communities leading to almost 90% enrolment.

WAY FORWARD

  • BMM programme is now set to be launched in two urban slums of Mumbai – Sion and Pratiksha Nagar
  • Using the first 4 communities as a pilot, build a replicable blueprint for implementing a child-friendly urban slum community – where every child is safe, free and educated
  • Roll-out child friendly urban slum communities as building blocks towards developing a child-friendly city
  • Use the BMM programme as a way to activate and strengthen the local government’s initiative towards building safer urban communities for children
  • Transform children and other community members into long term change agents who sensitize the broader community regarding child rights and the importance of education.
  • Work with the government to make a self-implementable rollout of Bal Mitra Mandal