: Stories of Hope
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Association for People with Disability (APD)
Arambh (This program is no longer supported by CRY)
In Bolangir district of western Orissa, CRY-supported project ADHAR works to address issues of malnutrition, child labour, school drop outs among children while tackling migration, displacement, landlessness in these communities. ADHAR's interventions in 49 villages in the district has seen visible impact with more children going to school and staying there, more pregnant women and mothers receiving quality healthcare and more families having access to land and better opportunities for livelihoods. View Photoessay
ASSOCIATION FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITY (APD)
Working in Kolar district of Karnataka, APD has been empowering the physically-challenged to demand their rights as well as enabling society change their attitude towards disability. Their belief strongly lies in an integrated approach where people with disability are seen as part of mainstream life and not excluded from it. To this end, APD has formed federations at Village and Taluk levels to create awareness and ensure disability does not become a discriminating factor in the lives of children and their families. View Photoessay
ASSOCIATION FOR INTEGRATED RURAL DEVELOPMENT (AIRD)
Issues: related to Palmyra workers and their rights in Tamil Nadu
Key Focus: Demand from the state government to lift the ban from toddy tapping and establish Palmyra Workers trade union
Area covered: Ramanadapuram district - Tirupulani, Mandapam, Ramnad, Ninarkovil and Kadalady, R.S. Mangalam, Bogalur and Vilathikulam Blocks
Year after year when rains failed this drought prone district, thousands of Palmyra workers along with their families, borrowed from moneylenders at exorbitant interest rates, took palm fields for lease to tap toddy- their only source of survival. At the end of the day they managed to make Rs.20-30/-.
When the government banned toddy in the state, it had little thought for the livelihoods of Palmyra workers. In order to promote Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) that generated huge revenues to the government, the state government ordered total ban of country liquor stating the ill-effects it had on people. What is contradicting this reason is the study by the National Institute of Nutrition- ICMR, Hyderabad that proves that toddy has a nutritive value.
The ban forced the workers to diversify their products into palm syrup, sugar etc which had no commercial value and required a lot of labor to produce. Even if they did manage to find a market, their products could not compete with other multinational products. Barely had the people begun to recover from this shock, when the government, in 2001, ordered to close down the Palmyra workers cooperative societies which were a part of the Palmyra Workers Federation- a board set up in 1954 to cater to the social security needs of all Palmyra workers.
The Palmyra Workers Union is currently fighting for the lift of the ban on toddy tapping and aims to revive the Palmyra Workers Cooperative Societies and Palmyra Workers Board so that every worker gets access to social security and other livelihood benefits.
The effect on children:
The ban directly affected the lives of the children of Palmyra workers, who are now forced to assist their parents in candy making or keep migrating from one place to another in search of work along with their parents.
Around a quarter of the families of palmyra workers do not own land. Hence, most families migrate to near by towns and villages along with their children, discontinuing their studies if they were ever in school.
Children are trafficked to various cities, to work in shrimp industries, salt pan, spinning mills, etc as their parents cannot afford to look after them or need the additional income to repay loans taken from the moneylenders. The economic policies of the government which does not favour the palmyra community has had a direct impact on the child trafficking.
More than 58% of the workers do not receive minimum wages due to the seasonal nature of the occupation. Added to this the exploitation by the middle men, police authorities and government officials make matters worse.
What AIRD does:
- Networking with five like-minded partners, to build a Palmyra workers' movement in 150 villages.
- Organising the 47000 workers existing in the allied workforce to fight for their rights.
- Mobilising and organising Palmyra workers in 250 villages and motivating them to demand livelihood rights.
- Campaigning to repeal the ban on toddy and demand the recognition of workers under the welfare board which enables them to attain employment guarantee, food security and social security which in turn provides education to their children.
- Working towards strengthening the Palmyra Federation and registering it under the Trade Union Act so that the community's voice can be heard.
- State level networking with other NGOs to fight for the repeal of the ban.
CRY's Role: - Apart from the financial support, is to
- Link the child rights agenda with the macro issues of livelihood.
- Help AIRD plan campaigns and programmes aimed at mobilising the community, and creating awareness among them about the importance of child rights.
- Provide training and organisational inputs to AIRD.
- Involve them in the State Alliance's activities to demand for the rights of the community.
- Link AIRD with other NGOs, activists, lawyers, academicians etc. through the state and the country, enabling them to share experiences and learning.
(This program is no longer supported by CRY)
"Who has the solutions to the problems faced by deprived children?" We. All. Together! This has been proven by the children of Arambh, who have learned to look and think beyond their own selves. The children were so moved when told about the devastating effects of the Gujarat earthquake that they decided to do their bit for the affected victims. Each child pooled in 25 paise, 50 paise, and Re. 1, from their daily earnings "rag picking, serving at tea stalls" collecting a total amount of Rs. 1754 rupee by meticulous rupee, for the children of Gujarat who they saw as being more in need than themselves.
To give from whatever little one has reflects the true spirit of sharing. This is the real beginning.
Arambh (means a beginning) works with children in the slum colony in Turbhe stores, Navi Mumbai. The area lacks basic amenities like water, sanitation, education and healthcare. To add to this, two political parties dominate this slum and the dynamics and conflicts among the two parties largely influence the availability of these basic facilities. The 3 schools in the locality are heavily populated and lack basic infrastructure facilities and staff to support the children leading to high drop-out rate.
However this did not dissuade Shobha Murthy, a Chartered Accountant who left the corporate world to start Arambh in 1998. With more than 10 years of professional experience behind her including being the head of CRY's Finance function for 3 years, Shobha has been involved with a number of community development activities giving her a first hand understanding of poverty and illiteracy. This experience led her to setting up Arambh with some like-minded friends who were inspired to directly intervene to change the situation of these children.
Arambh was started with a clear intention to work on the right to development - issue of education with children. The project hopes to make a sustainable change in the community by:
- Reducing drop-out rates and ensure cent percent enrollment amongst children from 3 slums in Turbhe Stores.
- Marking improvement in the scholastic performance of children in the community through creative programmes with special focus on girl children.
- Empowering the community to access services of health and education as provided by the government.
- Identifying and developing local leadership amongst youth who will take responsibility for development communities and ensure that's rightfully their.
Some of the activities initiated by Arambh towards achieving this have been by:
- supportive education classes for the children. These classes have been supplemented with a lot of excursion trips, competitive & interactive activities with other schools, access to computer-aided education material and health check-ups. The children have been extremely receptive in the classes and their performance has been extremely good.
- establishing a good rapport with the community in Turbhe Stores and also some middle and upper class families in Vashi.
- receiving support and active participation from the Zilla Parishad school teachers in Arambh's activities.
Although the first step has been taken, there is still a long way to go. Arambh dreams of creating a community which respects, recognises and values the child and where all children have hope and opportunity.
Shobha, project holder believes: "What projects like Arambh need a steady and strong support from an organization having high credibility. Enabling us to make a difference to children like Suman Rathod."
Suman comes from a family of rag pickers and used to put in 6 to 8 hours everyday picking rags and metal scrap from railway yards, factory sheds etc, in the Thane-Belapur area. She would come with her mother to sell the scrap to the scrap dealers in Turbe stores where we met her looking wistfully into our centre observing the children studying or enjoying themselves. Her mother told us that her husband was dead and her two sons were useless. The mother, sickly and looking very old and frail, had to work 14 hours a day, walking long stretches in search of junk to pick up. This was the only way she and Suman could earn about Rs. 80/- a day to feed the family of 4. There were days when they got nothing for all their efforts and the family just went hungry. The thought that her daughter could do something better with her life if she were given an education did not cross her mind because she thought education was only for the rich.
Today Suman, aged 12 years is studying in class VI. Her mother is determined to see that she finishes school and gets a good job. Suman is shy and quiet but takes very good interest in her studies and the embroidery classes we run for young girls. We are very proud of Suman and her mother who made it possible for Suman to attend school.
What we at Arambh have achieved in terms of the quality of our activities and programmes is only because of the financial support and the development expertise which CRY has been extending to us.
What was CRY's role in all of this?
- Funding the non-formal education centres and balwadis (pre-primary centres) for children.
- Helping Arambh plan campaigns and programmes aimed at mobilizing the community.
- Providing training and organisational inputs that ensured the accountability and effectiveness of the programme.
- Linking the child rights agenda with the macro issues of livelihood.
- Building a leadership team in Arambh and giving them inputs on how to advocate for the community rights.
- Linking Arambh to other NGOs through the state and the country, thus enabling them to share experiences and learnings.