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Menstruation – A Taboo No More. Period.

A schoolgirl once stained her uniform whilst on her period. The boys in her class looked on and laughed. She laughed too, at how very naive they were…

Menstrual blood is typically the only source of blood that isn’t induced traumatically. Why then is it such a sensitive issue in a society like ours where child abuse is talked about freely but god forbid someone brings up menstruation during conversation! We live in a country deeply rooted in ignorance and superstition. Young girls across India lack the support they need when they reach this crucial stage in their lives. In most homes, mothers are unable to address menstruation related queries and in schools, the teachers shy away from doing so. This led CRY, an organization that provides child relief and support, to take up the initiative to spread awareness at the grass root level last year.

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Rini

Gift of a Healthy Life!

Nature is bountiful – and Odisha as a state, has received so much from nature. If one travels across the state, the changing weather and landscape is palpable. The other change that can be noticed is the change in people – their living conditions, economic stability and socio-political scenarios vary quite drastically.

Mayurbhanj is one of the largest districts in Odisha and is famous for its places of interests, mining and agricultural options and lush forest areas. However, in spite of all the opportunities, Mayurbhanj has been featured in the list of the country’s 250 most backward districts (Ministry of Panchayati Raj, 2006).

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Anwesha

I Volunteered For A Journey…

I am a survivor of clinical depression. I confess.

I screamed at my parents, every day, every hour. I confess.

I blacked out during my first year college exams. I confess.

Shaggy hair. Unchanged clothes. Ugly crying through the night. Pills swallowed and a blade hidden under my mattress. I confess.

It was scary. It was grotesque. It was madness. I confess.

Though that changed. Not over a day. Not over a single mail. Not over a single orientation. It took a week, a few months and a couple of years.

CRY invited me to volunteer for their non-profit organization. I was introduced to a community – a Geography teacher, a Merchant Navy officer, a group of sophomores, a post-graduate, an IT specialist, a marketing associate – all gathered for the common cause of child welfare.

I was re-introduced to a community. A different venue, this time. Homemakers gathered around the community tap, children peering through drawn curtains, a sister carrying her baby brother on her back, a teenager sitting inside the family store with a pen and an exercise book in his hand, finishing his homework for the day. Lanes were narrow, rooms were pigeon-coups. Litter all around; puddles and mud to fill the spaces.

I felt privileged. I felt ashamed.

My very first assignment came. The role of a teacher in a skit. Lines upon lines to remember. ‘Bengali’ never seemed so impossible.

Time for a community call. Heard my co-volunteers discussing the posters they had made and a night that they sacrificed. Curious faces looked up to us. A volunteer sat down with a lady on the rail-lines and conversed about child education and its importance. A group of prepubescent children shouted out to us. They had pasted the posters in every lane, carried the spare and distributed it among their neighbours. I witnessed something new that day. I witnessed enthusiasm.

A stereotype was broken. Far from the sketches of our dailies. Numbers become people. Pictures become faces.

A single room, it is known as the local club. About ten volunteers, about double the number of children. Sometimes the light did not work, the ceiling fan refused to be switched on. It was raining cats and dogs. The sun was beating down on everyone’s back. The cold was trying to give us frostbite. The children remained, so did we.

The second phase of my journey began. Some had their classes and others their jobs to attain. No one was available. I volunteered and I surprised myself. No push was there, no pressure. It felt right. It felt natural. I started visiting Government schools, both fully and partially sponsored. The ceiling had its plaster peeling off. The computers no longer worked. A monitor was stolen. Children milled about during their recess. A girl wished me a good afternoon. Another told me about the midday meal she had. The teachers stood up, pulled their chairs for me. Asked if I wanted anything to drink. I was astonished.

A man came to visit the principal. He smiled shyly and told her about his decision to give priority to his daughter’s education. He further said that he would like to her her established independently before her marriage.

The principal in the second school talked animatedly to me. Pointed at the newly potted plants. The ground that has been swept, no rubbish for a few months at least.

CRY donated laptops to them. An initiative to digitalise the curriculum. Every Tuesday I met the interns. I met a co-volunteer who came running after his CAT prep sessions. A guide text was prepared and translated. We taught and teachers learned.

Quarterly visits were made by Anindita Di – my mentor and friend. There were days when I called her up exasperated, lonely and struggling. She talked about her initial days, sketched me a motivation. Her days, her nights and in betweens – the conflicts, the frustration and the sheer urge to quit. She made it feel natural; she prepared and guided me through.

And she become much more. She became family.

Then there were a thousand days and a million nights when I attended the health camp with a running fever, counselling the families on medicine and practices. I gave a talk before a room full of guardians and school staff. My hands were still trembling, my heart still beating a staccato. I still lived to tell the tale.

Children changed my life. I confess.

Volunteering changed my life. I confess.

I still have my inhibitions in giving a talk. I still have bad days. I still get overwhelmed facing so many challenges. I confess.

Still.

CRY made me smile and changed my life for better. I confess.

Anwesha Das Gupta, CRY Volunteer, Kolkata

Child Labour

THE UNDIMINISHING ACT OF CHILD LABOUR IN INDIA

SOCIAL VALUES IN OUR COUNTRY

India, our motherland is a very versatile country. We have different regions with different territorial variations, cultures and values spanning across various regions in thousand different ways, traditions flowing in our blood, customs that are a part of every Indian household.

These customs and values hold us together and bind us in one nutshell; hence we live by the true spirit of being an Indian. Although India is proud of its achievements, we also have major social issues to be addressed in the country.

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Sunita

DECIDE. COMMIT. SUCCEED

“Fall seven times, stand up eight.” – Japanese Proverb
This is the story of a young girl who achieved success through sheer determination and grit. Sunitaben Jeevanbhai Vaghela, a 15 year old girl, lived with her family in Gujarat and was appearing for SSC (Secondary Board Examinations) that year. Sunita was a bright child. Hence her parents had lofty expectations of her faring well in the exams and making a mark for herself. However, destiny had something else in store for Sunita. Not only her, but her parents and family members were shattered to know that Sunita had failed in her exams. Heart-broken and thoroughly disillusioned with life, Sunita dropped out of school. Her parents, who too had lost all hopes, became disinterested about her continuing her education. Often, out of sheer distress, they would question her about her failure despite being a smart and hardworking student. They also taunted her saying it would have been better had she not taken up studies at all. Sunita was distraught because not only did she have to deal with the anguish of failing the exam but also had to go through the agony of dealing with her parents’ harsh demeanour towards her.

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Rippan Kapur

Remembering Rippan…

Remembering Rippan as always on what would have been his 64th birthday….
Every year I sit down to write about Rippan on his birthday and I know if he could reach me, he would yell at me to stop wasting my time and get on with what I have to do. He was like that. Hated talking about himself. Never let people know that he founded CRY. Always referred to the founders as ‘they’. And once when the Rotary wanted to give him an award, he agreed to go only if they gave the award to CRY and he picked it up on our behalf! It’s what allowed CRY to not just survive his premature death, but grow, change and thrive.

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Sathya

A victim of gender discrimination yesterday, a civil engineer tomorrow

Being a woman in India comes with its own set of challenges. Gender stereotyping and discrimination on the basis of caste are just about the tip of the iceberg.

The Challenge

In the villages in the Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu, gender discrimination was not only practiced enthusiastically, but was considered the norm. Girls were at a disadvantage from the minute they were born. Even if girls were lucky enough to be enrolled in schools, they had to drop out after primary school. Reason? The only high schools in the area were at least 10 KM away and the only means of transportation was a government bus that ran on no fixed schedule. The private bus was way too expensive. In a place where daughters were considered burdens, parents would never spend such amounts on transportation!

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satyam iit kgp

That’s how we do it!

Working for society changes you into a much more grounded individual. Our motive is to wish to bring about social change of some sort. My 3 years’ experience as a volunteer at CRY IIT Kharagpur Chapter, which had regularly attracted local resources and successfully implemented its initiatives of School Drop Out Enrolment, Child Sexual Abuse Awareness Workshop, Medical Camp, Career Counselling, School Sessions, Community Meetings, Child Labour Survey and many more, taught me that a ‘high-principled’ team allows an organization to achieve maximum efficiency with minimum resources. We are very sensitive to the organization’s public image, its internal rules, and the tasks set for them, but the results of  our work justify the time and effort involved in doing so. We encourage each other to take initiatives.READ MORE

sana

An internship that changed my life!

I am Sana Mushtaq Zargar from the School of Law, University of Kashmir and the lush green, peace loving valley of Jammu and Kashmir.

My internship at CRY was my first ever internship. I’ve made a lot of memories during the journey of my internship but one of my most memorable projects in my internship was when I had to visit the children from CRY project intervention areas who were being trained at the Border Security Forces (BSF) training center on various courses. At the training center, I was delighted to see such happy faces and couldn’t wait to have a word with them. We had to document 5 initiatives which included courses like cooking, plumbing, tailoring, computers and electricity department.

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Featured Image_Nandha Kumar

From Vyasarpadi to Indian Football – A Journey of Dreams!

Nandha Kumar is a vibrant footballer from Vyasarpadi, Chennai who currently plays for Delhi Dynamos. But the glitz and the glamour of the world of football and its players is yet to touch him. The younger son to Sekar and Sarasu, Nandha Kumar was identified and brought to the Children’s Collective in his area, run by CRY supported project Slum Children Sports Talents Education Development Society (SCSTEDS) at the age of 7. At that time, his father who used to work as an auto rickshaw driver had to stop working owing to health issues which left Sarasu to earn for the family. She began selling snacks outside school premises which provided the family with just Rs. 3000 to 5000 a month. They lived in a tiny house, with used asbestos sheets for a roof. Nandhakumar and his family survived on a single meal every day and he was completely dependent on the mid-day meals provided in the school.

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Abhinav

All in a day’s work!

Abhinav Parashar, a 24 year old hard working software engineer at Century Link Ltd during the day and a passionate volunteer at CRY during the night, is no less than a superhero for the under privileged kids in Vaishali. He has been teaching these kids every day after his office hours for almost a year. And in this short duration of time he has matured immensely and won the hearts of the kids. This short journey is no less than a roller coaster ride for him and his team, facing every challenge head on and standing firm throughout are the basic pillars to their group.. He believes that children are the vital part for a greater future and they should have a positive and healthy attitude towards life, this would lead to lower crime rates and one day it will eradicated all forms of crime from the face of earth.

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5 Friends, 1 Mission – Preventing Child Marriage

A decade into the new millennium, and somewhere in the remote corners of the Satgawan Block in Koderma, Jharkhand, a group of five friends were getting ready to go for a wedding one summer morning. The mood was buoyant and the fun was yet to begin. They arranged for the presents for the bride and reached the venue at the village of Puthodih. But the bride was nowhere to be seen! When it was time for them to leave, upon their insisting, the mother of the groom arrived carrying the three year old bride in her arms. The little one had fallen asleep from the sheer exhaustion of the day’s proceedings.

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About Us

Child Rights and You (CRY) is an Indian non-profit that believes in every child’s right to a childhood – to live, learn, grow and play. For nearly 4 decades, CRY and its 200 partner NGOs have worked with parents and communities across 23 states to ensure sustainable change in the live of over 2 million underprivileged children.