Thursday, September 24, 2009

Boys' Town

The concept of a "Boys' Town" was born in 1921 when Fr Edward Flanagan of Omaha, Nebraska, began to work towards building a boys' orphanage as a 'City of Little Men', emphasizing the development of socially useful skills which would help the inmates in making their livelihood once they had to leave the orphanage.

Since then, the model has been adopted by several institutions caring for orphaned children. The term has itself become so generic that there seem to be several Boys' Towns across cities, sometimes even within the same city. This one run by the YMCA near Fort St George is the oldest in Chennai, having had its origins as a Street Boys' Club. It was only in 1947, after the YMCA was given this space to provide accommodation for the children, that the Street Boys' Club came to be called Boys Town.

Today, the Boys Town provides secondary education for over 2000 children, followed by vocational training. That's apart from the orphanage services it provides. Hard to imagine so many of them in such a small space outside the Fort!

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