Sounds of Hope Travel to the Slums
As the world gets smaller, we are seeing more and more collaborations across continents which have an impact on hidden, unheralded populations. When noted names like the jazz-rock pioneer Larry Coryell, Kai Eckhardt, a former bassist with the John Mclaughlin Trio, Osam Ezzeldin, star of the world music scene and tabla maestro Aditya Kalyanpur come together in a concert of India inspired jazz, not only do we benefit from the riches of this musical bonanza but also actually have an impact on the lives of children.
Indeed, the Sounds of Hope Concert is hosted by Salaam Bombay Children’s Fund which is based in Stamford, CT and raises funds for children in the slums in India, allowing them to stay in school and build a future. So check out the Sounds of Hope concert at the New York Society for Ethical Culture near Central Park West in Manhattan on November 14.
As Victor Martinez-Angles, President of the Salaam Bombay Children’s Fund says, ” Join us and change a child’s life.”
Salaam Bombay Children’s Fund works with children in Mumbai’s slums who face a bleak future: there is extreme poverty and 9 out of 10 children are school dropouts. The figures are grim – there is child labor and substance abuse and children are also addicted to tobacco. Salaam Bombay Children’s Fund supports these ‘at risk’ children through in-school leadership and after-school sports and arts programs.
Spirit of the City: Padma Somani, founder of the Salaam Bombay Children’s Fund
“India has the highest child population in the world at 40% of the total population.”
I started SBF in 2002 with the purpose of working with a severely under-served segment of Mumbai’s population. The children in the slums. I had been working on a hospital outreach project on tobacco control with children and realized that these were the most vulnerable population of the city. In fact, these at-risk children were facing such challenging circumstances exacerbated by poverty, poor or no education, poor access to healthcare and an environment of hopelessness that compels them to take to addiction, in particular to a high uptake in tobacco use in children even as young as 8 years.
So, the name Salaam Bombay is a salutation to preserving the spirit of the city and this at risk population forms the base of the pyramid, an important part of the city’s foundation and future. The only way to work with India’s future is to work with children. India has the highest child population in the world at 40% of the total population. Hence, working with children is essential for the progress of India. In fact, if we solve any problems for the children of India, we can be almost certain that we would be solving it for the world just by virtue of the number of beneficiaries.
So Salaam Bombay works with children in at-risk environments, empowering them with life skills through after-school arts and sports programs, and an in-school leadership and advocacy program with the purpose of building their confidence and recommitting them to finishing school. We believe that a child in school has a future.
We currently work in 230 schools across Mumbai and are engaged with over 50,000 kids. Our team has 83 full time staff involved in implementation and monitoring of our program. The teams meet on a regular basis and share learning and challenges. There is a formal monitoring process and a quarterly, half yearly and annual reviews. Our work has been independently evaluated by the Harvard School of Public Health. We have also been recognized for several awards. Two of the most significant international awards is the recognition by WHO and a proclamation issued by the then Mayor’s office, Mr. Michael Bloomberg.
We encourage our donors to visit the projects first-hand and our children are most excited to share their thoughts with guests. There is no better way to understand what we do than to experience it for yourself.
Q and A with Victor Martinez-Angles
How did you decide to get involved with Salaam Bombay Children’s Fund and do you travel often to Bombay? How much interest is there in CT about a nonprofit in India?
I have been traveling and work with India for over 10 years now and I am fascinated by the country’s culture, its people and the contrast of opportunities and challenges. Nowhere that contrast is as stark as with the millions of children that will be India’s future, with so much going for them and so much lacking.
I had the opportunity to join the Salaam Bombay, bring awareness and drive support from US donors for the great work they do, helping the most underprivileged youth to stay in school, giving them confidence and hope to build a better life for themselves.
There is quite a bit of support non-for profit causes in India across the North East and elsewhere in the US, and not only by the successful Indian diaspora, but also by many individuals with a world view and perspective of the challenges the most populous democracy in the world faces, as well as the great contributions they can make if we all help them overcome them.
Tell us about Sounds of Hope – how did the concert come about and what can the audience hope to see?
The night will be about world music and India inspired jazz. I hope they will be inspired by the music and the cause they will be supporting by attending the concert
How would you like readers to support Salaam Bombay Children’s Fund?
Anyone can support Salaam Bombay, it takes less than a $ a day to keep a kid in school and on Salaam Bombay’s great in-school and after-school programs. As a public charity we accept donations from anyone willing to support us. I’d encourage readers to learn about us and our work and join us in supporting these children at risk.