Beyond Money
Back on their feet

Saathi rehabilitates destitute children and deals with the problems of trafficked and runaway youth

In 1986, Altaf Shaikh was volunteering for an NGO. At that time, few institutions dealt with street children; working for adolescents living on the streets was unheard of. The plight of street-dwellers used to concern him but it took him nine years to get other workers concerned about the issue together and set up Saathi (in Mumbai), which became a friend for teenagers living on streets and railway stations.

Saathi now runs a shelter for destitute girls and another for adolescent boys at the Agripada Municipal School (Mumbai Central). It also deals with problems faced by trafficked and runaway children. Since there are few social workers who concern themselves with homeless adolescents or those who are past the age of staying at juvenile centres, Saathi provides educational and professional training as well as counselling so that these youths can be independent after they leave the shelters. “When we started, there was little awareness about the issue,” says Arif Kapadia, acting project coordinator of Saathi’s youth initiative programme. “People found it difficult to believe that someone can actually think of rehabilitating these youths. Our team had no experience about how to deal with them. We learnt and, now, we are much better equipped.”

The initial years, Mr Kapadia says, were stressful. Street-dwelling youths or trafficked children are viewed negatively in India; they are considered anti-social elements. “Even the law and police view such youth with suspicion. People were not willing to commit financially or otherwise. Now awareness has built up, and we find it easier to convince authorities and donors about our cause,” says Mr Kapadia.

He says, few common people and government officials (including policemen) are aware of the rights of these children. “We still meet a lot of people who do not know about the Juvenile Justice (Care & Protection of Children) Act,” Mr Kapadia says.

Saathi has several programmes—the youth initiative, vocational training programme ‘Kria’, therapeutic programmes which help these children bond with each other and become more confident socially and psychologically. They have trained volunteers and field staff, who identify children on railway platforms or on streets. “The railway police have helped us in a lot of cases by identifying these children. We provide them with shelter. Sometimes, when we identify runaway children, we try to reunite them with their families, but that is not always successful,” Mr Kapadia says.

Many teenagers identified and rehabilitated by Saathi are today more confident about themselves. For example, the field staff came in contact with Santosh alias ‘Mama’ at CST (Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus) in August 2008. After repeated counselling, he got involved with Saathi’s activities. Finally, Mama decided to move out of the street and, since the past four months, he is living in Sion-Koliwada (central Mumbai) and working as a labourer with a firm at Fort (south Mumbai).

There are also teenagers like Raju, from Tardeo (central Mumbai), who was living with his family on the streets. They could not access facilities because they lacked identity proof. Raju now holds a ration card; 50 other families living in that area have also got their identity cards. Raju is now working to organise these families into a group so that they can avail of government schemes and facilities for the urban poor.

The staff and volunteers at Saathi have to undergo special training programmes for dealing with these adolescents. Sometimes, counsellors and professionals are invited for providing specialised training. “The runaway kids, whom we are in contact with, now work with us and help other runaway kids get home,” says Mr Kapadia.

One can join Saathi as a volunteer or offer one’s professional expertise. Money can be donated via cheque or demand draft. All donations are exempt under Sec 80(G) of the Income-Tax Act.

SAATHI
Agripada Municipal School
Room G-4, Ground Floor
Opp YMCA Swimming Pool, Mumbai Central (E)
Mumbai 400 011
Tel: +91 (22) 2300 9117
www.saathi.org
[email protected]

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Caveat emptor: Information on a few pyramid schemes

Check this out before your cheque is in

A blog at http://www.strategyindia.com/blog/is providing yeoman public service by listing the hundreds of Ponzi and pyramid schemes as well as every trick in the trade that they use to dupe people every year. The blog, with archives going back to 2007, also lists the action initiated against many of them. Here is a small list of examples:

UniPay2U: A popular scheme, is unable to make payments any more after its accounts were frozen by a Court order. Moneylife had written about it—“Pyramid Schemes—Novel Pitch”—in the 9 September 2010 issue.

Aryarup Tourism and Club Resorts: It had its accounts frozen by the Mumbai Economic Offences Wing on 10 November 2010.

Way 2 Life: Its office is shut, its promoters untraceable and the website down.  
Red Carpet Entertainment: It has changed its website and company name. Payouts have been blocked.

Fine India: See Moneylife Cover Story, “Money Chain”, on a fraud investigated in Orissa. Its accounts have been frozen by the police.

Ram Survey:
A clone of Speak Asia; lures people big time.
Paazee: It had raised Rs211 crore. It was raided by the Tamil Nadu police and its directors arrested on 6 October 2010.  

BK Jewellers: This was a scam amounting to Rs128 crore.
It was shut down by the Economic Offences Wing of the Delhi Police. 

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COMMENTS

Rajveer

5 years ago

Good work . all the crooks must be arrested and jailed.

Does your insurance policy cover loss due to terror attacks?

The terror attack in Mumbai heightens the need for personal accident policy to cover losses due to terrorism, as the government compensation may be too small to make up for the loss of wages due to disability or death of a breadwinner

The terrorist attack in Mumbai on Wednesday claimed the lives of at least 21 people and injured more than 130 people. While nothing can replace loss of a near and dear one, the families of the victims will have to put the pieces together and move on.

But how does a family cope up with the loss of wages due to disability or death of the breadwinner? On Thursday, prime minister Manmohan Singh announced an ex-gratia assistance of Rs2 lakh to the families of each of the deceased and Rs1 lakh each for the seriously injured. The Maharashtra government has also announced a compensation of Rs 5lakh to the families of those killed and Rs50,000 to those injured in the triple bomb blasts. However, it may be worth considering the option of buying insurance to cover losses due to such terror attacks.

On the life insurance platform, insurers pay the sum assured for basic life insurance in case of death due to reasons other than suicide, in the first year. This means that a life insurance policy will pay in case of death due to terrorism. Additional riders, like personal accident (PA) rider, which usually pay double the sum assured, will not cover acts of terrorism in most cases. Major surgical benefit, too, may not be paid if a policyholder undergoes surgeries arising out of a terror attack.

The PA policy is a standalone product from non-life insurers. They exclude disability or death arising out of war or acts of terrorism. A few insurers like ICICI Lombard and Bajaj Allianz General allow terrorism cover with personal accident policies which is a good feature. Group PA policies can be tailor-made to allow terrorism cover.

Mediclaim offered by non-life insurers will cover hospitalisation expenses (minimum of 24 hours) caused by illness or accident. It could be by a terrorist attack or for any other reason. But only medical expenses are covered and there is no death benefit.

According to Dr Amarnath Ananthanarayanan, managing director and chief executive officer, Bharti AXA General Insurance, "Following the September 2001  terrorist attack in New York, the Indian insurance industry had formed an insurance pool to provide cover against terrorism risk, but it was restricted to cover only property damage. Its utility was proven in November 2008 when two hotels in Mumbai, among other targets, became victims of a terrorist attack. The pool paid a loss of around Rs400 crore to the affected parties."

He pointed out, "It has been suggested that personal accident policies are included in the terrorism pool. This would facilitate the insurance industry to respond to terrorism events by immediately releasing on-account or even ex-gratia payments to the affected individuals, and indeed provide the much-needed service that is expected from the insurance industry. A fund can be created and combined with the terrorism pool for the benefit of victims of terrorism. Funding for this can come from contributions from state and central governments, tax exemptions and insurance companies.

The other thing that can help the insurance industry provide succour in event of such tragedies would be for insurance companies to be allowed to create disaster-reserves which are exempt from income-tax. And to provide higher benefits to the end customer, the government can look at waiver of service tax on the premium linked to terrorism cover."

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