A partnership with the Salaam Baalak Trust
he first in our series on projects successfully funded by the Edinburgh Global Innovation Fund, we look at a project that is embarking on a global partnership and educational exchange with a world-leading NGO for street children – the Salaam Baalak Trust, in Delhi.
Founded in 1988, the Salaam Baalak Trust (SBT) provides shelter, legal advocacy, health care, and educational opportunities for thousands of abandoned children in India every year.
This educational exchange will see Edinburgh postgraduates and undergraduates travelling to SBT to provide teaching and learning experiences for staff and children, while undertaking impact-led research projects to benefit SBT’s work.
In return, the University will welcome teams of SBT staff and children to Edinburgh during the Festivals.
In line with the University's ambitions to widen access on a global scale, this exchange will be among the first of its kind anywhere in the world and stresses our aim to lead the world in providing meaningful educational exchanges with immediate and sustainable social impact that will enlighten staff and students beyond our classrooms.
The project was one of eight that received funding from the Edinburgh Global Innovation Fund.
The panel were delighted to fund the project with the Salaam Baalak Trust. The dual aim to increase mobility of Edinburgh students to India, engaging in meaningful and valuable projects, in addition to supporting incoming mobility of Indian students and children really spoke to the Edinburgh Global Plan.Specifically, we were keen to invest in projects that add value under the Global Exchange theme of the Plan. We wish Adam and colleagues all the best with this project and hope that it is the start of a long and impactful partnership for the University in India.
A new perspective
Dr Adam Budd had been volunteering at Salaam Baalak Trust since 2010 and was greatly committed to developing a formal partnership with the organisation.
It’s clear that unlike many NGOs, at SBT the efforts of those involved make a genuine, visible difference.
The project is truly exciting, with all involved eager to see what takes place once the SBT kids begin to work with Edinburgh graduate students.
The eagerness is not only in terms of what differences can be made to the lives of the children and staff at SBT, but also how the Edinburgh students will be shaped by the experience.
In April 2018, the team of MScR and PhD students arrived in Delhi.
While in country, they will carry out research and interviews in an effort to develop materials that will strengthen the work of SBT, while learning more about the ongoing work of the NGO and working on projects on personal hygiene and sex education.
The team will be blogging and sharing images on Instagram about their experiences with SBT both during their time in Delhi and upon their return.
Excerpt from Salaam Ed blog post “Be Curious” by Alice Thomson:
“We’ve grappled with questions such as “how do we know if caring attempts are successful?”, “Is it ever OK to remove a child from their family?”, “Does that answer change when the family want their child back?”, “What must it feel like for parents to have their children taken away from them?” We don’t have answers; these questions don’t evoke clear cut answers. What feels important, though, is that we are considering the nuances of these complex social realities, navigating through them together, whilst considering how our own life experiences, like the haze of Delhi itself, colour our views. This isn’t a bad thing, but a reality of the human condition. We’re here for three more weeks, and during that time we’ll be getting involved in a variety of projects including life skills workshops, data-management, and qualitative data collection. So things are all go here in Delhi and change is constant.”
I met with two of the four students when I visited Edinburgh in March – they are fantastic and so looking forward to meeting and working with the children and staff at SBT in Delhi.I am sure this will be one of the most significant life experiences for them as well as enrich and inform their research and look forward to their blog posts and other updates.
Developing a formal partnership
Impressed by the work of SBT and the ambitions for a partnership, in August 2017 Amrita travelled to Delhi to meet Dr Adam Budd, of the School of History, Classics, and Archaeology, who is leading this partnership.
Along with Parvati Patni, SBT’s Executive Director, they visited residential homes in Shakti Nagar Chowk and near the New Delhi Rail Station, along with an outreach project among homeless children living near Hanuman Mandir, CP.
At one point they stumbled upon a dance rehearsal among SBT’s adolescents and were blown away by the brilliant talent and serious focus of the gifted and energetic kids.
I was very pleased to connect with Dr Adam Budd, Lecturer in Cultural History at the School of History, Classics & Archaeology in June of last year and hear his wonderful ideas about linking his passion for transforming lives of street children in Delhi with the University.When Vice Principal International, Professor James Smith connected us, it was an opportunity to explore what it means to be a great civic university in the context of a globally engaged institution.
The MoU was signed in January 2018, with Amrita meeting with Mrs Nair and Geetan Batra, SBT trustees, in Delhi.
It was inspirational to hear about the genesis of the charity and the work that went into building it up into the significant and respected institution that it is today.During the short visit to SBT centres in August last year, when I first met Parvati and others who are dedicated to SBT’s work in Delhi, I was lucky to see first-hand the impact that the institution has had.I met with young children who have just entered the programme and spoke with an older student and a recent graduate – what amazing transformations! They are confident, articulate and deeply conscious of how far they have come; without allowing their difficult years to bog them down. It was a privilege to know them, and to see their commitment to the Trust as mentors.
How you can get involved
The team welcomes enquiries on this exciting initiative, particularly from India-based alumni - they can provide opportunities to see this valuable partnership in action.
Follow the journey and the work of the team of students by following their Instagram
If you’re interested in a setting up a partnership, use the Edinburgh Global partnerships tool: