The UNICEF definition of street children as cited by Nandana Reddy in Street Children of Bangalore: A Situational Analysis (NOIDA: Government of India, 1992), p. 2:
Street children are those for whom the street (in the widest sense of the word, i.e. unoccupied dwellings, wasteland, etc.) more than their family has become their real home, a situation in which there is no protection, supervision, or direction from responsible adults.
The three operational categories:
Following can be summed up as our mission:
1. Children on the Street
Forming the largest category, these are children who have homes; most return to their families at the end of the day.
2. Children of the Street
These children are a group, who have chosen the street as their home and it is there that they seek shelter, livelihood, and companionship. They have occasional contacts with their families.
These children have severed all ties with their families. They are entirely on their own, not only for material survival but also psychologically.
India is home to the world’s largest population of street children, estimated at 57 million. India is the seventh largest and second most populous country in the world. With acceleration in economic growth, India has become one of the fastest growing developing countries. This has created a rift between poor and rich; 22 percent of the population lives below the income poverty line. Owing to unemployment, increasing rural-urban migration, attraction of city life and a lack of political will, India now has one of the largest number of child labourers in the world.
Street children are subject to malnutrition, hunger, health problems, substance abuse, theft, commercial sexual exploitation of children, harassment by the city police and railway authorities, as well as physical and sexual abuse, although the Government of India has taken some corrective measures and declared child labor illegal.
People in general look at these little ones and say they are dirty and chase them like a beast. 80% of them do not have contact with the parents. They really run away from home due to various reasons. They move from one station to another. Due to the industrial growth and urbanization, for the sake of survival, the villagers move towards the cities. Seeing this, the children of unskilled labours move to the cities and wander on the streets of cities. The number of children of HIV affected parents is on the increase. Broken families, stepmother’s ill treatment, alcoholic parent’s ill treatment etc., cause many children to run away from their families. The pressure from parents and teachers when the child faces a failure in academic studies is yet another reason to leave the school/hostels or home. In this category, we see children from well-to-do families too on the street. Some parents force children to leave homes due to utter poverty. It is also found that while travelling children miss their parents/guardian and land up on the streets. There are also children on the streets, knowingly abandoned by the parents. Physically challenged children too fall in this category. It is also found that children coming in groups from villages to see the glamour of the city spend all their money and are caught up in the city.
Fr. Jose Mathew Kaippan plackal SJ, the Founder Director of THARA is a member of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) a religious order of the Roma Catholic Church. The Society of Jesus is a worldwide body and has only male members; they are called Jesuits. Jesuit priests and brothers — also sometimes known colloquially as "God's marines"— are engaged in evangelization and apostolic ministry in 112 nations on six continents reflecting the Formula of the Institute (principle) of the Society. They are known in the fields of education (schools, colleges, universities, seminaries, theological faculties), intellectual, research, and cultural pursuits in addition to missionary work, giving retreats, hospital and parish ministry, promoting social justice and ecumenical dialogue.
In Andhra Pradesh the Society of Jesus is registered as Jesuit Province Society having head quarters at Hyderabad. Jesuit Province Society has all the necessary elements like, the executive body, the governing body, the constitutions, by-laws etc. It to is a purely non-profit organization.