Delhi, India – Over 500,000 underprivileged children live there, in the capital of India, in the second most populous city in the world (with 27,197,000 inhabitants).
It’s a tough life for children there, especially for those who live in the streets. They earn few money and it’s difficult to manage and keep them. They experience abuse and exploitation, they have limited access to healthcare and poor nutrition and most do not attend school. To help resolve this situation, a Bank for kids (9 to 18 years of age) was born, and it’s managed only by children and run by a teenager manager.
In Delhi, the life of children is not like we may be used to in our “rich” western – or westernised – countries. Some of them became orphans at a very young age. Forced to live with relatives in poor conditions and/or abused, children run away from home and school and start living alone, working in the streets and doing “miserable” jobs such as selling used water bottles.
Some of them live at the railway station and start taking drugs. In fact, most of the children are runaways, drug addicts and victims of violence. Under this condition, families of street dwellers grow and these children don’t have any means to save their low earnings. Without any education, with a past with no childhood, made of loneliness, sorrows and abuses, these “young men and women” are not able to properly manage their money (they may get stolen, lost or misused). They use them to feed with junk food or they simply forget where they put their money.
All of this led to conceptualise and initiate a stunning initiative by the Butterflies voluntary organization in 2001: Children’s Development Khazana (CDK), a bank for children, managed by them, on the principle the children would make all the rules and decision. CDK is a life skills education programme, educating children and adolescents, democratic values and financial management. CDK’s primary objective is to impart life skills education, teach them to be responsible, prioritise needs, budget and save.
The young bank clerks make the entries for children who deposit (a small amount of) money in this bank. Money are recorded in books and kept safe and children even collect interests on their deposits with a 3.5% rate.
Some children who deposited their money there could withdraw and use them to buy a meal at Mc Donald’s for the first time in their life. Something that could be ordinary – or even poor – for us, but a really great achievement for them.
Opened seven days a week, children are educated on how to spend their money, thanks to tables kept by a “khufia Agency” (Spy Network). If children misuse their funds, their account may be blocked.
According to ChildHope organization, who is operating in India through their partner Butterflies, until now 15,000 children saved over $62,000.
Thanks to this initiative, children “without a future” can finally have bigger dreams and objectives to fulfil. By saving and managing their money properly, they can now aspire to a better life and job: Navy Officer, photographer, IPS (Indian Police Service) Officer, teacher, scientist, just to mention a few.
And the good news is that this initiative is not limited to Delhi, but operates in eight countries across the world and on the same principle: a bank for children, managed and run by the children themselves.