Ruchika Social Service Organisation a grassroots level NGO has been working with marginalized street and slum children in Bhubaneswar city of Orissa, a coastal state of India. In response to the growing and seemingly insurmountable challenges faced by these children, the organization started in 1985 with an over whelming credo “if the child can not come to the school then the school must come to the child”. It is presently reaching out to over 4500 hard to reach children with a number of innovative schools and serving with education, health care, supplementary nutrition, counseling, vocational training, shelter for homeless and other basic services as they require.

Considering it’s unique and unchallengeable strategic intervention, ICA started its support in 2002 for 15 of such schools. These cover 375 impoverished children of slums. In this project the education component matches the pace of the children as they fall in many categories e.g. late starters, nonstarters, slow learners, girls in domestic work . We believe that education is the one major catalyst in empowering them in to meet the challenges of life and to enable each individual to aspire to a better quality of life. Objectives of the project were to enhance education at a low cost and make it interesting and meaningful to avoid wastage and stagnation. It also looks into mobilizing the slum community to be partners of change. In the course of last 2 years of ICA’s intervention the project has sent over 200 children to government schools after primary education, over 500 children who were previously involved in labour force have received primary education and health care and above all a positive environment has been created in the community to prevent free entry of the children into the wage earning labour sector.

Photographs Provided by Paola Gianturco – Platform School, Ruchika