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Homeless Children in India Publish Newspaper

A group of homeless children in the Indian capital of New Delhi publish a newspaper telling about their own lives.

It is called Balaknama, which means “children’s voice.” It is written and edited by children up to 19 years old. About 10,000 people read it.

The children write about poverty, child labor, underage marriages, sexual abuse and drugs. A homeless girl named Shanno helps edit the paper.

“When reports arrive and the team sits down to select the story, lots of fights break out. They argue: ‘This story will have more impact than that story.’ So there’s a lot of debates before the final selection goes to print.”

The newspaper has 70 reporters in several states and 14 in the capital. All of the reporters, editors and managers are homeless children.

Jyoti Kumari is one of the reporters.

“I used to beg, do drugs and sometimes go rag picking. Then I learned about Balaknama and began to work for it. First, I was a junior reporter, then a reporter and now I’m all set to become the editor.”

Many of their parents are jobless and cannot read or write.

The children now earn money, and many of them attend classes online that may help them find a job.

The newspaper is published every month. It has eight pages. In 2002, when it began operations, the newspaper was published four times a year. It has changed the lives of many of the children who publish it, and hopes to improve the lives of thousands of others.

Non-governmental organizations and charity groups support the newspaper.

Sanjay Gupta leads a group that helps the children and gives money to the newspaper.

“They feel very empowered and encouraged when people appreciate them, and when they talk to the authorities with the confidence, and also before the media. I think this is a really powerful tool to empower them.”

The newspaper costs about three cents. That is less than the price of a small cup of tea in India. But the small cost gives the children hope that they will someday have a home and a job.

I’m Jonathan Evans.

VOA Correspondent Zlatica Hoke reported this story from Washington. Christopher Jones-Cruise adapted it for VOA Learning English. Hai Do was the editor.

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Words in This Story

edit – v. to prepare (something written) to be published or used; to make changes, correct mistakes, etc. in (something written)

break out – expression begin

goes to print – expression is printed; is published

beg – v. to ask people for money or food

rag picking – v. picking up rags or other pieces of cloth, or waste material from the streets or garbage dumps to earn money

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