This profile was prepared when Sonali Ojha was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2000.
The New Idea
Sonali has created with the help of street children a participatory, child-centered learning initiative that will help them to see the possibilities in life and connect to their inner source of worth, strength and confidence to move towards their own vision of the future. While most organizations working with street children address problems of food, clothing, and shelter, Sonali's key insight from working with the children themselves is that, in order to help them learn to live healthy, productive lives, they also need emotional support from the adults who work with them. Using this innovative and participatory curriculum as the catalyst for change, Sonali plans to train other organizations working with street-children in order to bring about a monumental shift in the focus of adults' work with street children. It will facilitate a process of reflection and discovery within each child as well as help adults working with children to learn more about their needs and aspirations. By responding as individuals and organizations to the children's needs, adults will be more effective in helping children struggling to leave street life behind.