The Edith Wilkins Street Children Foundation India is a not for profit organisation that provides care and protective support to street children, victims of abuse and sex trafficking, child labourers and other at risk minors. Founded in 2003 by Cork born nurse Edith Wilkins, the foundation is based in Darjeeling, India. Due to the proximity of Darjeeling to the borders of Nepal, Bangladesh, and Bhutan, the town is a common route used by child traffickers when smuggling children into India. To date over 2500 children have come through our system in Darjeeling and presently there are over 500 children in the system.
The foundation currently has two residential shelters (i.e. Halfway Houses) for boys and girls, which can provide shelter for over 130 children at a time. Our educational services offer non-formal drop in education centres for 100 children who are not attending formal education. In addition, the centre provides after school coaching classes; these are study groups for over 80 children that the organisation supports in mainstream schools. Furthermore, there are currently over 300 children who are in full time education who are financially supported by the Foundation. These children cannot do homework at home due to illiteracy amongst family members or no electricity or space due to high levels of poverty.
For older children who are not academically inclined, there is a pre vocational training centre attached to the Foundation. Here, the children learn hairdressing and beautician skills. They also learn how to sew and crochet, and the products they make are then sold locally. There is also a registered small cake business which has been set up by the Foundation, known locally as “The Cake Lady”, which does good business in Darjeeling, and provides employment for a number of the older girls who live in the Foundation.