Pipe down, William Golding – Children don’t often take the path of Lord of the Flies. In fact, they appear to help each other by starting more ethical banks among themselves. As for what they will do when they become adults, we cannot tell.
But in the Fatehpuri neighborhood of Old Delhi, India, street children needed a way to keep their money safe. The Children’s Development Khazana [bank] (CDK) was created by, for, and run by children.
Young people, ages 9-18 use the bank and they make the rules and decisions. It is managed by 13-year-old Sonu. There is volunteer oversight of day-to-day logistics from NGO children’s rights organization, Butterflies.*
Furthermore, it is open 7 days per week and deposits earn 3.5 percent. Deposits are kept small and daily withdrawals are permitted up to the equivalent of $8 U.S. dollars. It was started on the basis of adolescents losing or spending all of their money; and so many of them, unfortunately, have to work like adults either supporting themselves or their families. But there is also the stated intent for them to use their savings towards vocational training and enterprise.
The banking there seems to be contingent upon the children joining the NGO program and using the shelter in some way, such as schooling. To “help…bring them into the mainstream,” says one organization teacher. That, and the awards and accolades it is receiving might explain why the initiative is spreading to other impoverished parts. At this point, it’s somewhat difficult to say how involved the adults are in these banks and if it’s really going to provide them with a future or encourage workforce and banking dependence at earlier ages.
Do you, personally, think children could run a bank without outside help?
Note: In the UK, scheme is often a neutral word for a plan or program, lacking the negative connotation it carries in the U.S.
* I cannot help but note the ominous feeling from an NGO set up for children called Butterflies. For more information about the significance of that, visit VigilantCitizen.com, starting here (not for the fainthearted!)
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