Theresa Betancourt: Images from India

Many families make their homes on sidewalks near the train station in Jaipur, India.
The large number of travelers passing through represent the possibility of income from such activities as selling soap, collecting empty water bottles for resale, and begging.
The train station is a haven for runaways; many arrive as young children and grow to adulthood, living here all the while.
One reliable way to earn a bit of money each day: collecting empty water bottles when trains stop in the station.
It's a hard life for boys who fall into this livelihood. They socialize with older men, gambling to pass the time between trains and using drugs to ease the shame of poverty and the pain of hunger and cold.
One of the bottle collectors strikes a pose. Badal, age 8, has grown up fast. He lives with his mother and siblings in the train station, but instead of sending him to school, his mother relies on him to help bring in money for the family.
The FXB International drop-in center ministers to runaways and children who live with their families on the street in Jaipur.
Children can get a shower and a hot meal, as well as some attention from caring adults.
The center urges children to attend school, but many of them are urged by their parents to contribute income by working or begging.
Even those who don't attend school can come to the center for basic literacy education.
This construction site in Gurgaon, near Delhi, is part of India's building boom—and it is already home to construction workers, most of whom come from rural areas and have families in tow.
Under Indian law, construction sites with a certain number of female workers are supposed to operate a childcare center, but few do. The nongovernmental organization Mobile Crèches contracts with some construction companies to run such centers, like this one in Gurgaon.
At the crèche, children receive food, education, healthcare, and access to clothing for purchase at low prices. Here, a nondenominational prayer before mealtime. Children on the construction sites come from India's various faiths: Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, and more.
Some of the children's mothers visit at lunchtime to feed them.

Through research, scholarly articles, and relationship building, Harvard School of Public Health professor Theresa Betancourtprofiled in our November-December issue—seeks to demonstrate models for governments, NGOs, funding organizations, and communities to work together in coordinated ways that ultimately improve children’s lives. Above, see images of the types of disadvantaged children she works with in India—from runaways or those in homeless families who spend their lives around the Jaipur train station to the sons and daughters of the migrant workers who build India’s high-rise offices and dwellings. 

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