SARTHI is an NGO (non-governmental organization) that participates in outreach efforts on a wide range of issues that confront children in difficult circumstances throughout Bihar. Located just to the west of Bengal, Bihar is one of India’s poorest and most underdeveloped regions.
SARTHI’s most central work is the protection and rehabilitation of children placed in Bihar’s government homes for minors. SARTHI does not discriminate in its efforts to help all children within this sizable and diverse population, which includes children from broken or abusive families, orphaned children, street children, handicapped children, and juvenile offenders.
SARTHI has a longstanding repatriation and restoration program at the government children’s home in Patna, Bihar’s capital. Over the past several years through SARTHI’s efforts, numerous children from various towns and villages all over Bihar have been released from the Patna government home and restored back to their respective families. SARTHI has also begun to take legal custody of some of the children confined in the government homes who are orphaned and have no parents, in order to take them out of the government homes and give them proper care and education in quality boarding schools in Patna.
SARTHI was established as a needs-based organization in 2001 to facilitate the release and rehabilitation of children from government-run homes in Bihar, India.
A group of concerned social activists and professionals founded SARTHI after visiting government-run institutions, such as the home in Patna, Bihar’s capial, in which we found children being kept for years without cause. Oftentimes the parents were unaware of their children’s incarceration. Still other parents, who were aware of the circumstances, had no financial means to travel to Patna to assist their children in petitioning for release. Compounding matters was their fear of becoming involved in complicated and costly legal battles for which they could not pay.
Throughout the course of our work, we became aware of myriad interconnected issues that surround child incarceration. For instance, a child who has suffered abuse and neglect at home or in a government home has little to no idea how to care for him or herself as an adolescent or adult.
We also found that the children who were not reunited with their families, but who had managed to escape a government-run home, were likely to become involved in criminal activity, with a life of incarceration in prison ahead of them.
For these reasons SARTHI also began working toward child delinquency prevention and organizing health camps to provide care and health education to children and adolescents.
SARTHI’s work is guided by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, setting out the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of children. We believe all children should understand their right to survival, protection, development, and participation.