Dr Praveen Nair is a Founder Trustee of Salaam Baalak Trust (SBT). ‘Didi’, as she is lovingly called in her organisation, has been passionate about helping the underprivileged since childhood.
Her involvement in the development sector spans six decades, during which she spent a considerable amount of time in Odisha, and headed various development related committees for the Red Cross, the DAV Public School and the Deaf and Dumb Association, thus reaching thousands of children and families.
Her daughter, Mira Nair’s film Salaam Bombay brought forth the harsh life of children living on the streets and motivated Dr Nair to make a difference in the lives of such children.
Dr Nair and Shri Sanjoy Roy established the Salaam Baalak Trust with three staff and 25 children in 1988 in a small space provided by the Ground Reserve Police (GRP) in the New Delhi railway station. Today, SBT runs six shelter homes.
Due to her compassionate nature and passion for child welfare, Dr Nair is closely bonded to these children. When SBT is unable to integrate children with their family, they are provided with a safe shelter in its residential centres. There are six such centres – Aasra, Apna Ghar, Old Delhi Railway Station Open Shelter and DMRC Children’s Home (for boys); Arushi and Rose Home (for girls). The children are provided shelter and care, a healthy and happy environment, nutritious food, clothes, education, healthcare, counselling, recreational facilities, etc.
The children go to formal schools and also receive a non-formal education. SBT regularly conducts health checkups and camps for its children. Sports activities, educational tours and cultural events contribute to the holistic development of the children.
Dr Nair strongly believes that education linked with life skills and livelihoods is the answer for transforming the lives of street children. Hence vocational training is a critical link of SBT to mainstream their children. It imparts vocational training for employable skill development and capacity building of growing children.
Some of the popular choices have been multi-media animation, film editing, theatre, music, dance, photography, graphic designing, etc. SBT has job placement and rehabilitation program for reintegration of the youth into the mainstream.
But that is not all. The SBT has a few several other initiatives as well.
Contact Points: SBT contact points are like daycare centres. They are located near railway stations, bus stops, market areas and in the slums. Presently there are 21 contact points. It reaches and protects over 5,000 children annually. Several team members who work at these points are former SBT children/beneficiaries.
Children rest and refresh themselves in these centres. Those who visit are trained in literacy and vocations via computer training, dance workshops, life skills education, language/communication skills etc.
The City Walk Program: This was introduced to sensitise the general public on the life of the street children. The young beneficiaries of SBT enjoy being Tour Guides, who share truths about street life. This Walk has been cited as one of the ten things to do in Delhi by the Lonely Planet.
The Mental Health Development Programme: This was initiated In 2003 to address the psychological needs of street children. SBT also effectively runs the 1098-Child Helpline in New Delhi district Central Delhi district and Old Delhi Rly Station.
Children benefited through SBT’s program in 29 years (from 1988 to 2017)
Total beneficiaries: 81,791children
Shelter provided: 21,323 children
Children in literacy program: 50,841 children
Children going to school: 10,630 children
Restored back to families: 15,492 children
Admitted to Vocational training: 3,505 children
Job placement: 1,047 children
Awards & Association:
• 2002: Making a Difference Award from Children’s Hope, New York
• 2003: Delhi State Award for Best Work done in Child Welfare
• 2004: Chirayushya Samman by the National Institute of Social Defense
• 2004: Anugraha by Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment
• 2006: UNAIDS Civil Society Award for the national fight against HIV/AIDS
• 2010: Kiran Life Time Award co-organised by Women International network, Indira Nirman Kendra and Yog Confederation of India.
• 2012: National Award by Hon’ble President of India for contribution in the field of child welfare
• 2014: International Spotlight Award from US President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanity to SBT, which is the only non-American NGO to receive it.
On October 28, 2017, Dr. Praveen Nair became the 40th recipient of the Jamnalal Bajaj Award, in the category of Development and Welfare of Women and Children.