JYOTI Street Project
JYOTI means ‘Blaze of Brightness' in Nepalese. The children and young people who benefit from JYOTI are among the most disadvantaged in Nepal – they come from backgrounds of extreme poverty, child labour, commercial and sexual exploitation, and social marginalisation.
The JYOTI Street Project (JSP) is an outreach programme that supports children and teenagers who continue to live and work on the streets. JSP provides services that allow children to drop in freely and receive support, including a night shelter, children’s development bank, non formal education, short term vocational training, counselling, health care and HIV/Aids awareness programmes.
The strength of Jyoti Street Project lies in its approach:
* We reach out to children on the street, offer them choices, and support them to raise their voice and change their situation
* We work with all children regardless of their circumstances, continually adapting to meet their changing needs
* We support children to live happier and safer lives and to invest in their futures
* The project is developed with the children, implemented by trained peer educators (former street children) and managed by an experienced project manager
Please click on the following links to find out more about the project:
* Friendship and respect
* A place to call home
* Protection and Well-Being
* Reaching Out
* Personal Development and Opportunities
* Saving for the future
This project provides a wide range of integrated services to help street and working children to survive and improve their lives. But more importantly than these services, the project provides children and young people with support from peers and adults that they can trust. Peer educators are role models that the children can relate to - people who have been in the same situation, have faced the same problems, and have taken the challenge to move on. These friendships give children confidence, and the motivation to care for themselves and their futures. This is fundamental in supporting them to make the difficult transition from the street when they are ready.
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The Bishram contact centre is the hub of many of our services. It offers non-formal education classes and access to counselling, advice and work placements, social facilities, drama and sports, help from peer educators, and health services. It is a place children can call their own, where they are safe, can relax, and most importantly have the right to be a child. It is also a place where they can spend time with peer educators, opening up their feelings, sharing their problems and finding the motivation to build a new future.
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The biggest priority of the project is to ensure children on the street are safe and well, and our night shelter plays a central role to help us do this. It is the only night shelter for street children in the city of Pokhara, and provides essential protection for the time when children are most vulnerable to violence and other dangers on the streets. Between 20 and 50 children use the shelter each night, and they have developed their own rules to follow.
The children also run a ‘kitchen club' at the shelter, where they prepare nutritious meals. These are subsidised but each child has to pay a small amount, depending on their age, to encourage them to support themselves. The projects also provides 24 hour emergency medical and legal support from a social worker, who is always available to address serious illness or injuries and to provide support if children have been arrested or abused.
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"Not all children on the street are able or want to come to our contact centre. If they don't come we can't pretend that they are not facing problems. We have to support them where they are" Resham, peer educator at Jyoti Street Project, who lived on the street for 8 years.
Every day our peer educator, Reesham, is on the streets visiting and talking with children. He tries to ensure children are safe on the street, reduce the risks children face, and motivate and support children to live more positively. For example, he might be working with gang leaders to prevent the abuse and exploitation of children, or discussing substance abuse and its' dangers.
Our social worker, Shanti, works with children and families in the slum areas. She is involved in preventing more children coming to the street, by encouraging parents to send their children to school and identifying support for the families. She also supports street children to reintegrate with their families, by providing family counselling. Shanti explains the importance of her work: "It is very difficult for children who have become accustomed to living on the street to move on. So it is important to support the fast reintegration of those who are just coming to the street. There is a much greater chance of success, we can reach more children, and it is also cost-effective".
Street health worker, Jagan, is out on the street every day, conducting health check-ups, providing treatment for minor conditions, and identifying conditions which need to be referred to the Asha Clinic or a local hospital. An important part of his work is preventing children becoming ill in the first place. He encourages children to take care of their diet and hygiene, raises awareness of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections, and teaches children basic first aid.
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Moving on from the street is a huge challenge for children who are faced with a shortage of social and economic opportunities, and hindered by a lack of education and self-development. In addition, the personal sacrifices required in terms of loss of freedom and taking on responsibilities, provide additional challenges. The project offers a range of options to suit children's varying needs.
Children are encouraged to join non-formal education classes run each day by a peer educator in the contact centre. These classes accommodate children of all levels, and aim to develop basic literacy, numeracy and language skills. For children who want to go to school, the project works in partnership with Sathi Nepal, a local organisation sponsoring children in formal education. Other children are supported to develop a technical skill through vocational or on-the-job training in partnership with the Pokhara Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The project staff also support the young people to find suitable employment, or to establish their own business.
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Most of the children earn enough for their basic needs, but face challenges in keeping their money safely, managing their expenses, and saving money for when they are unable to earn as much as normal, for example during the monsoon season. Therefore the children decided to open the Children's Development Bank. This is exclusively managed by the children, with the support of a facilitator from the project, and has over 600 members and total deposits of more than US$2,000. The bank encourages children to save, gives interest on savings, and also provides business loans. Through this bank, many children have been able to plan for a future away from the street, for example two young people last year opened a barber shop.
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