In India, millions of children live hard lives on the street. Jeroo Billimoria created an emergency hotline so they can get help.
WHO? Jeroo Billimoria WHAT? Childline, a 24-hour telephone hotline for children in distress WHERE? Mumbai, India WHEN? 1996 WHY? Children should be protected against the dangers of life on the street
Jeroo Billimoria knew exactly what she was talking about when she first approached universities, companies, foundations and child care centres about the need for a children’s phone hotline in 1993. She had dedicated herself to helping street children, and understood that things might not become dire for so many kids if they could get help sooner.
After three years of hard work, Billimoria was able to start o Childline, a 24-hour telephone hotline for children in distress. All children need to do is call the free number – 10-9-8 – to gain access to a network of hundreds of aid organisations, hospitals, schools, and the police. The idea has touched the hearts of many, including the international advertising agency Ogilvy %amp% Mather, who is helping bring public attention to Childline.
It is usually not children themselves who call, but an adult who sees a child in need. But it is usually a child who answers, since many street children volunteer at the hotline. With over 3 million calls, Childline acts as a powerful megaphone amplifying the voice of India’s children.
But Billimoria won’t rest until every child around the world can call for help. From its home base in Amsterdam, Child Helpline International (CHI) works to make this a reality. The organisation also serves as a databank for the problems of children worldwide, as well as a source of potential solutions. “Success,” says Billimoria, “will be when every child in the world has access to a service like Childline and knows that someone who cares is just a phone call away.”