PRECARIOUS LIVES

Stop at traffic lights in most Indian cities and you'll see street children. Begging for old newspapers from taxi drivers, as they wander between the lines of traffic. The lights change, the engines rev up, the children scatter. Many of these, alone and at risk, do not live to see their tenth birthday.

The luckiest have some shelter at night, and sell coloured pens or boxes of tissues. The unlucky sleep in the open, and beg for old newspapers, which they then pass to an older child who will sell them to the market stall holders for wrapping paper.

In India, over 300 million people live on less than 2 pounds a day. It is no surprise that those at the fringes live precarious lives. The street children are vulnerable to accident, prone to falling ill, undernourished, and open to abuse. Their chances of attaining a secure healthy adult life are slim at best.

Resisting the pressure to be overwhelmed, many charities such as Alpha India, are changing the world for individual street children.

How much has changed in the UK regarding physical and mental disability in recent years! India is changing too, but disability often results in grinding poverty, and sadly homelessness. Small children often have to make their own way, when disability strikes their mother or father.

Imagine all the social problems that we have in the UK - domestic violence, teenage pregnancy, alcoholism, drug abuse, family breakup. Now consider them in the life of an Indian street child, who has no primary school teacher to spot problems, no health visitor to refer the child to a social care agency, no concerned parent, neighbour or relative. This is the life of a street child.

Charities such as Alpha India, make a life or death difference to children like this.