The story of Child Helpline International started 25 years ago
on the streets of India. CHI's Founder, Jeroo Billimoria, had been working
with street children as a social worker. She gave the children her
telephone number and told them to call if they needed any help.
The phone did not stop ringing.
That is when Jeroo realised that these children really
needed someone to speak to, someone to assist them. The
idea of a toll-free number emerged. She set up Childline
India - India's first and only child helpline.
Childline's approach was to have volunteers who answered the phone
and who would go directly to the child in need. The
volunteers kept a log of the calls. This log would then become very
important data for the creation of child protection policies, thus
placing the helplines at the centre of child protection
After its success in India, Jeroo explored the idea of taking
Childline India's concept globally. This was for two main reasons:
Most importantly, the children themselves requested this. Secondly,
Childline was approached with requests to start branches in other
countries. But Jeroo, instead of expanding Childline India, had a
vision of creating a global network which provided
technical assistance to countries who could start or expand their
At an international gathering of child helplines in Pune, India
in 2001, a number of child helpline representatives discussed
together the need for a child helpline 'helpdesk', to
support existing child helplines and to focus on helping
to set up new ones where none yet existed.
This led to the 2003 International Consultation, held in
Amsterdam, the Netherlands. This was attended by representatives
from 49 child helplines from around the globe. This included
members of European helplines, who had also attempted to form a
European collaboration. This gave all the opportunity to be part of
a truley global network. It was here that Child Helpline
International (CHI) was officially launched. CHI was
officially established in 2003 in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, where
Jeroo was now based.