My first half of the trip I was mainly doing work around the Sneha shelter, but the second half I was working with another initiative Sanlaap had started, which is the Child Protection Programme. This was a programme where drop in centers in red-light districts act as a place catering to children living in red-light districts where they can find security and are provided education, health services, and opportunities to build their skills. This was my favorite work at Sanlaap. I would go the Red Light District and work in the Drop in Centers (DICs) to aid in the completion of the NGO’s annual report. They had a range of workshops from tutoring to dancing, and it was really great to form connections with different children there. What I found most interesting is the complete rearrangement of the Nuclear Family these drop in centers were able to provide. These centers were not daycares, as the children slept there too, but it was a place where the children lived and the mothers would stop by, it was of the likes of a communal home that was open onto the road so children were coming and going. It almost created a sense of home within the entire street, where the children all living in the DIC had relationships like siblings.
The Head of one the DIC’s explained to me that often time they are confused about the father figure, and many children attribute the title of father to more than one male who frequents the street. It is the same with mother figures, while most are naturally closer with their birth mothers, some have “two mothers” where they have a relationship with their birth mother, but had another woman raise them and care for them from a young age. Thus they attribute the title to two people. It is really interesting, and quite beautiful to see the bonds of family so widely attributed to so many people, and still be prominent relationships in their life.