SPRINGWISE - Instead of taking homeless children and placing them in an
institutional setting, which often doesn't work, the Mobile School
reaches out to children in their own environment. The goal isn't just to
teach them basic reading and writing skills, but also to help them learn
that they deserve a better life. They're given time to develop
self-esteem and slowly prepare themselves for life off the streets, or
if that isn't possible, at least make their life on the streets more
The school itself is a small, mobile cart with blackboards and
educational materials that slide out to give kids plenty of room to work
on writing, drawing, learning to count and tell time. The organization,
founded by a young Belgian industrial designer, got started in Guatemala
and Bolivia in 2000. The concept can easily be adapted to other
countries and other circumstances, like working with children in refugee
Mobile School currently has 16 schools trekking around cities in South
America, Asia, Africa and Europe, and hopes to continue to expand.
SPRINGWISE - [In] New Delhi, India. . . more than 1,000 street children
have joined together to create a bank that helps them manage the small
sums they earn each day. Launched in 2001 by a volunteer aid group
called Butterflies, the Children's Development Bank aims to empower
children in several important ways.
Like any other bank, CDB pays interest on the deposits that New Delhi's
street children make. That interest can be a vital incentive to kids who
might otherwise spend their daily earnings on cigarettes, candy or other
items-or worse, have their meager profits stolen. Money for the interest
comes from the repayment of micro loans made to kids 15 years and older.
But interest on income is only part of the picture. While adults stand
at the ready to help, CDB is managed by children, helping them gain
valuable work skills.
Some might argue that children shouldn't work at all. But CDB's adult
patrons maintain that the economic circumstances in New Delhi and other
parts of the world with large populations of street children provide no
alternative and that CDB gives these children better control over their
lives and earnings. And their idea appears to have legs. Besides India,
banks have been organized in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Nepal.