Healing Karachi’s invisible scars

Karachi, Pakistan, is a vibrant metropolis filled with culture and diversity. However, beneath its colorful façade lies a grim reality often overlooked—the trauma endured by the city’s street children. These resilient youngsters grapple with homelessness, hunger, abuse, and exploitation daily. Fortunately, organisations like the Save Our Children Foundation (SOCF) and the British Asian Trust are tirelessly working to address this issue.

Our collaborative efforts focus on training Government Personnel, Police Officers, Magistrates and Child Protection Officers in mental health awareness . How to handle rescued children with empathy, and compassion, with the ultimate goal of connecting street children to the support they need for a brighter future.

The Silent Victims:

Karachi hosts a substantial population of street children, many of whom have fled abusive homes or were abandoned by their families or sold into slavery . These children face the harsh realities of life on the streets, enduring suffering, abuse, addiction, and a constant struggle for survival. Violence from various sources, including other children, adults, and even police officers, is an unfortunate part of their daily existence. These experiences leave deep emotional scars that impact their mental health and overall well-being.

Mental Health Awareness Training:

Police officers and child protection officers are often the first responders in incidents involving street children. By providing mental health training, these professionals can better identify trauma symptoms and respond with empathy and compassion. This training covers de-escalation techniques, trauma-informed care, and an understanding of the unique challenges faced by street children and their families .

Non-Formal Education – NFE:

The SOCF prioritizes addressing the pressing issue of street children lacking access to formal education. Recognizing the difficulties they face in enrolling in traditional schools, the foundation develops and implements non-formal education programs tailored to the specific needs and circumstances of street children, bridging the educational gap. These programs are designed to be engaging, adaptable, and sensitive to the backgrounds of these children, focusing on fundamental literacy and numeracy skills, as well as life skills for making informed decisions about their futures.

Rescue and Rehabilitation:

The SOCF plays a pivotal role in identifying children at risk of abuse helping in the processes of rescuing and rehabilitating working diligently to identify and assist those at risk . The comprehensive rehabilitation process includes not only basic academic needs but also access to healthcare, emotional and psychological counseling, and the provision of a safe and supportive environment. Collaboration with the police and Child Protection Officers ensures that these children are removed from perilous situations and offered a fresh start in life.

A key objective of this partnership is to guide street children to the appropriate services that cater to their specific  needs, including clothing, food, shelter, education, healthcare, and counseling. The alliance aims to break the cycle of homelessness and despair by connecting these children with the right resources.

Awareness through Media:

The trauma endured by Karachi’s street children is a grave issue that demands wide spread attention. SOCF believes in spreading awareness through a variety of channels including plays ,talk shows ,short animated videos and social media outreach. When the community comes together these children can be given with a brighter future and the chance to heal.

By Shaiyanne Malik, Founder, Save Our Children Foundation