Images of India : Street children turn reporters…

childrensnpAs one of New Delhi’s thousands of street children, Jyoti Kumari knows more than most about the goings on in the Indian capital’s desperate and sometimes brutal underbelly. Now the 16-year-old, who has never stepped foot in a regular classroom, is putting her knowledge into print, reporting for a tabloid run by street kids and tackling tough issues facing the city’s homeless. Balaknama, meaning voice of the children in Hindi, has 70 reporters, some as young as 13. The newspaper draws its stories from the mass of families and others living under flyovers and on footpaths, and delves into issues of child marriage, sex and drug abuse and police brutality. The newspaper, which started in 2002 as an eight-page quarterly, has slowly increased its readership to about 10,000 copies and is now published monthly – finding funds to keep the paper going is a major challenge. The paper sells for Rs.2. Kumari who moves, along with teems of others, to a homeless shelter at night to sleep enrolled in a distance learning programme run by an NGO was enrolled in a journalism workshop and within weeks was heading out on reporting assignments and conducting interviews, in between her new schooling.