Tuesday, 2 September 2003

Bombay (Fides Service) –“Snehasadan” which means “Home where we are loved” is the name of a home for street children run by the Jesuits which for forty years has restored hope and joy of life to orphans or abandoned children in Bombay, main city of Maharastra state, and one of the largest cities in India with a population of over 14 million.
Bombay has at least 100,000 children living on its streets, but when considering all India the figure rises to 18 million. To address this serious problem, and save young people from the street, drugs and crime and help them find their place in society, the Jesuit Fathers in Bombay opened Snehasadan home. Besides giving them a place at the home the Fathers also help to find families willing to adopt the unfortunate children. Jesuit Father Placido Fonseca, director of Snehasadan “Snehasadan”, tells Fides Service about their work: “Many people see children as objects to use, low cost work force to be exploited. Every day I see the beauty, the potential, the mystery hidden in each of these children. Our aim is to give them a new identity and self-esteem and to change their life for ever ”.
In India the main problems afflicting society are low family income, overpopulation, unemployment, malnutrition, lack of education, disease cause by lack of food and poor sanitation. There is growing urbanisation as masses of people leave rural areas for large cities to join the millions already living in slums.
Many children are pushed on to the streets by the death of their parents, others are abandoned by their families because of poverty, mental illness or because the father has no work. To survive these children beg or get involved in criminal activities. Very often the parents themselves involve the children in prostitution or other criminal activities causing serious social and psychological consequences.
Thousands of school age children are forced to leave school and work to help the family. Prison, prostitution, slavery, violence and death is the common destiny awaiting street children. About one million of the world’s children are exploited in sex trade, either to survive themselves or to help their impoverished families. “But the worst assassin of these unwanted children is indifference. It must not be forgotten that a child never chooses the street!” says Father Fonseca. This is why “Snehasadan”, home providing love and help is always filled with children who are able to be children again and look with the future with hope.
(PA) (Fides Service 2/9/2003 lines 36 words 457)