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Street children burdened with Delhi's dead

Updates • India • Apr 2021
“I don’t know how we can survive like this. Someone must help us.”

A message from Toybox CEO, Lynne Morris:

Over the weekend, I am sure that like me, you read or heard about the huge surge in coronavirus cases in India.

I spoke to Sanjay, the CEO of CHETNA our partner organisation in Delhi, and he said the situation is horrific. For the street children and families we support, life had barely returned to any sense of ‘normality’ before this new wave struck. Now, any spark of hope there was of recovery is quickly deteriorating as the crisis deepens.

This morning, I got more details from Sanjay and the situation for so many street children in Delhi is dire. In one community where we work, there are reports that the informal crematorium built nearby is overflowing. Not only are children in this community suffering the unimaginable trauma of living so close to an open crematorium - the constant smell and witnessing the agony of relatives as they deliver their loved ones - some are so desperate to earn a living that they are helping to deal with the dead bodies, without any protective clothing.

Sanjay said, “We are going through the second spell of lockdown. We have also witnessed fires in two of the slums. Many people have lost their homes and belongings. It is a very difficult situation. Children are really traumatised when they see that their parents are not able to go to hospital or get medicine. We have witnessed many cases where there are dead bodies near to where children are living. Children also face difficulties in getting food and safe drinking water.”

Many of the families we support have been unable to find work since the country-wide lockdown was lifted last year. These children and families live a hand to mouth existence, with opportunities to earn an income increasingly sparse and government rations only available to few. Now more than ever, they are in urgent need of our support.

Our partner is determined to support as many children as possible with food, health and hygiene kits, sanitary care, and basic supplies.

Currently they estimate there are around 5,000 children and families across the communities where we work who are urgently in need our support.

Providing emergency support right now is essential. However, sadly we know that this is not a crisis that is going away anytime soon.

We are therefore working alongside CHETNA to develop a sustainable plan of support - with the hope that emergency care can be provided for the next three months at least - as well as support in other areas to help prevent some of the long-term devastating effects the pandemic may bring. These will include counselling, access to education and employment.

We need to act quickly to protect children who are already at their absolute most vulnerable.

If you are able to make a donation today – you will help provide food, essential hygiene kits and the emergency care vulnerable children and families need to survive right now.

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