Delhi yet again/Salaam Baalak Trust walk

February 23rd 2015
Published: March 4th 2015
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Back in Delhi smog to the same hotel (who are storing our big luggage) again for one night. We went on the city walk organised by Salaam Baalak Trust and led by former street children (whom the trust has resettled), which they do to gain confidence speaking english and make money for the trust, plus tips for themselves. It wasn't such a shocking insight to us as it had been to many of the people writing on Trip Adviser, since our hotel is near the station, and we pass the narrow lanes to get there. However, we learnt more from the young guides; and were very heartened to hear that this organisation is helping so many street children and has an impressive record for getting addicts off drugs (70 or 90% - I forget which). It seems that Delhi is like other big cities the world over, and attracts young people hoping for a better life, who often fall prey to pimps and/or drug dealers. One guide said he left home to escape poverty in Nepal borders after his father died, another that he left home because his religious father beat him for forgetting his koranic lessons. He said the Trust

Our guide tells the amusing tale of how residents of this alley put up these tiles of deitys, and so put people off using it as a urinal.
at first reunited him with his family....but after he ran away a second time they let him stay in their childrens house. The female guide did not give her account, so we leave this to our imaginations. The boys said that tourists should never give money to street children, as this will probably be spent on drugs, (or just possibly cinema). They said that they were always able to survive on free food which is given out by the temples (a fact we hadn't realised before). We walked around the lanes a bit, and were told how they had lived, then taken to a contact point above the Railway Police Station. From there to a day centre, where we were encouraged to interact with the children, who were drawing pictures, for about 10 minutes. This was the part of the tour that I personally found uncomfortable. There are 6 city walks per day, and these children must feel like extras in a photo shoot......but as Fred says, if it brings the money in, the Trust obviously thinks it worth doing. I can not knock the good work they do (so perhaps I should not have mentioned that discomfort either in this blog or on my feedback form for the walk??), as our 3 young guides had been rescued from the streets and become confident educated individuals. The trust gets some funding from the Indian government, some from Save The Children and other charities, and most from public donations generated by means such as these city walks.

After the city walk and before the overnight train to Amritsar we felt like a calm relaxing visit. Our train on this occasion left from a different station in another part of Delhi, so we found a place to visit near that. (We have not felt inclined to visit famous sights such as the Red Fort in Delhi, because we think Amber Fort in Jaipur and Jaisalmer Fort can not be bettered, and because we don't like rushing about too much). We went to Humayan's tomb near Nizamuddin station, which is remarkably similar to the Taj Mahal in design (although built earlier and not of that luminescent white marble), but more relaxed and quieter. Here you can sit or walk on the grass and listen to the doves cooing, which would not be allowed at the Taj. A few relaxing hours here, and then we boarded the overnight train to Amritsar, on which we were delighted to find we had a private 2 berth cabin again. Although the train was due to arrive at the ungodly hour of 5.40am, we didnt set alarms, knowing that Amritsar is the terminus, so no risk of missing our stop....and secretly wishing for it to be delayed so we could sleep longer!

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