SLP Stargazers Foundation
Stargazers Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation, committed to solving one of the most urgent crises of our time: To give the 11-15 million children who are living on the streets in India a home.
About SLP Stargazers
Stargazers Foundation was founded by Dr. Miniya Chatterji with the aim to improve women’s education and health in India in 2010. Its mission was to include healthy and skilled women from economically backward regions into the mainstream economy and governance structures.
Stargazers ran its programmes in the Middle East and in India in close collaboration with the International Labour Organization, 100 Women in Hedge Funds, UN Women in Egypt and in India, Whypoll in India, King's College London in United Kingdom, Winentretien in France, Reconstructed Labs in South Africa, Lebara Foundation UK.
Past funding was received from both the International Labour Organisation and the Lebara Foundation.
We have now become a part of Sustain Labs Paris and are working towards a systematic solution for the provision of shelter and education to all street-connected children.
SLP Stargazers Foundation feels a strong sense of responsibility to respond to the ongoing COVID-19 emergency. Our team at Sustain Labs is leading a coalition that includes our clients and organizations we are associated with. Together with our partners, we are setting up alternative COVID-19 recovery centres across India. The crowdfunding platform for this work is run by Stargazers Foundation.
Our work focuses on homeless children as they belong to the most vulnerable populations in India. Up to 18 million children are estimated to live on the streets in India who find themselves deprived of adequate care and protection. Their most basic human rights are being violated on a daily basis as inadequate nutrition, work in hazardous conditions, and physical abuse are part of the status quo for street children. Too often, their precarious situations make it impossible for them to access education while studies have shown that unclean water, poor sanitation, hygiene, and harsh environment constitute the most common risks for death among children aged 5 to 14 years of age in India.*
At Stargazers Foundation, we are committed to protecting all street-connected children. We are convinced that their suffering can be prevented with a systematic solution on the policy level.
*Global Burden of Disease 2020.
Aspect 1. A Public Private Partnership for Funds: It is proposed that GOI introduces a law for all education trusts in India, earning above Rs. 500,00,000 in annual revenue for the past 3 consecutive years, to contribute 2% of their revenue to provide education and shelter for street children.
Aspect 2. Refurbish vacant government schools into boarding facilities: It is proposed that GOI permits vacant government schools to be refurbished to cater as attractive ‘children’s boarding’ for temporary and long-term purposes. The boarding facilities will be managed in partnership between GOI and NGOs using the funds raised by Solution Aspect 1.
Aspect 3. Evoke RTE for afternoon classes in surrounding schools: Willing private and government schools located within a 20-kilometer radius of the boarding facilities, will hold afternoon classes, with special emphasis on vocational skills, for children. This is in line with mandatory provisions of the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act. A framework for teacher training in the participating schools can be prepared by Sustain Labs and the Psychoanalytic Therapy and Research Centre Mumbai, to build pedagogical capacity within schools to support children who have lived on the streets.
Aspect 4. Build trust with children on the street via successful NGOs: It is proposed that GOI brings on board NGOs who have provided day and/or night shelter to at least 150 children at a time in the past 5 consecutive years, with annual average child retention rate of no less than 95%, for outreach to homeless children and bring them to refurbished boarding facilities.
It is Stargazers Foundation’s guiding principle to act according to the best interest of the child and in line with a do-no-harm policy in everything we do.
We believe that empowering children and strengthening their agency by involving them in finding solutions to issues that concern them is key to a successful intervention.
Further, we take a strictly data-based approach that includes in-depth research and the involvement of experts in every step of the process.
At Stargazers we always aim to promote children’s agency and to involve them in the process of finding solutions that are meant to serve them. While this is a critical means of empowerment, it also helps us to understand their needs more adequately and design the proposed solution accordingly.
To test our solution, we conducted Art Workshops as creative alternatives to a traditional survey that aimed at engaging the children and involving them in the process of finding a solution. These workshops represented an integral part of our research.
After having identified 12 aspects covering health, shelter, mental well-being, ambition, and emotional needs of street children, Sustain Labs’ Creative Director Joseph Rajini Asir and Jinal Doshi traveled to Mumbai to conduct the survey with 40 street-connected children. As part of a participative research methodology, they used art to communicate the 12 aspects with the children.
These Art Workshops involved a three-step process:
1. Participatory Research: This step involved using art and pictograms as a premise for dialogues with the participants while also looking for subconscious indicators for experiences with violence and abuse.
2. Focus group discussions: The focus group discussions helped us collectively pull out information where the sharing of a particular experience by one child encouraged others to affirm if they have had a similar experience or challenge in their life.
3. Personal Interviews:
For slightly older children aged between 12-17, we then built on the data from the participatory mapping and conducted individual interviews to collect additional details on family background, history of abuse, and perceptions towards the outer world to solidify our indications and findings.