‘Balaknama’, a quarterly newspaper, launched in 2003 with just 35 reporters in New Delhi, is the world’s most unique newspaper. The newspaper has spread its network to seven cities across India, with almost 10,000 children working for the publication as writers and journalists.
There is a vast slum population in India and it’s also one of the most neglected sections here. Street kids battle problems like child marriage, abuse, sexual abuse on a daily basis. Thanks to the NGO, Chetna, thousands of street kids now have a purpose in life.
This NGO has brought these slum kids together and made them amateur journalists. The journalists of ‘Balaknama’ earn money by doing small jobs but have the dedication to raise their voice for truth and against crime through their newspaper.
If a Bollywood actor’s dog gets hurt, it will be breaking news and will be covered by all newspapers and channels in India. But when a street kid dies on a railway platform or in an accident, no one seems to care. We want everyone to treat street kids as equal citizens and we try our best to get their voice heard, says 17 year-old, Vikas Kumar.
Vikas ran away from home because of his abusive parents. He worked a couple of years as a rag picker at a train station. He fought drug addiction, came out clean and now works as a reporter for ‘Balaknama’. Many children like Vikas have ‘Balaknama’ as a hope that one day they will be heard and will be considered important enough to talk about.
Shanno, who started as an editor in ‘Balaknama’, is now the publication’s advisor. ‘Balaknama’ has helped her to know her rights and find a leader within herself.
Through Balaknama, I got to learn about my rights and found the leader within myself. In the beginning, I had to lie to my parents that I found a job to be able to continue working for the newspaper. I spend a lot of time counselling families and children to work as reporters, and once they see the photo or name of their child published in the newspaper, they are drawn towards us.
She further shared about the amount of effort they together put in ‘Balaknama’ ,
Every time we sit down in our editorial meeting, we fight hard to figure out which story will be on our front page. Our network of reporters works hard to get us unique stories which are not being covered anywhere else.
Today, when people hardly have time to spend with their families, there are people helping these street kids to be heard. So, when are you buying your first copy of ‘Balaknama’?
Take a look at the video to know more about ‘Balaknama’: