Sona’s Schoolcoming

“I miss my father. I was about seven when he passed away. And everything kept on getting tougher. My mother would cry a lot. Some days we would eat just once in the whole day. I have four brothers and three sisters. All of us started farming in the small piece of land we had. My mother too goes away for days. She goes to the big nearby cities where she works as a farm labourer. I used to stay at home with my sisters and helped them in the household chores. I was good in studies but had to drop out when I was in second standard.”

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Of Rough Hands and Dreamy Eyes…

May was challenging for the young CRY volunteers. Ignoring the scorching and sultry Kolkata summer, they were to be found in the urban slums of the city, and not in the air conditioned malls their peers were frequenting during their holidays. The volunteers were busy conducting summer camps for the children of the Kolkata slums. In one such, a bunch of them met Sabina*. This little girl lives in the interiors of Ballygunj (otherwise known as one of the posh parts of the city). No! where Sabina lives, there are no jazzy shops or eateries, nor palatial mansions. She lives in a shanty, much like her friends.

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On a Mission to Eradicate Child Labour

They say childhood is the most important and fun-filled phase of our lives – the age when you are free of responsibilities, not bound by boundaries and showered with endless affection. A lot of you may agree with this, but more than half of our population won’t. Living in our protected environments cushioned with all sorts of comforts, we forget to acknowledge the harsh reality most people live in.

Let me take you a little closer. As per the National Census, there are close to 10.1 million child labourers in India, in the age group of 5 to 14 years.

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Tiny Shoulders, Big Burdens

The day of the community cultural programme was a busy day for all the kids in the Sonari slum area of Jamshedpur. But, the busiest of them all was the lanky teenage boy- Ganesh, who’d masterminded the whole event.

Ever since Adarsh Seva Sansthan (ASES), a grassroots level non-profit supported by CRY had started work in this slum adjoining the city’s airport; things have been taking a turn for the better. ASES aims to provide a fair, healthy world to the underprivileged children and to bring them to the mainstream where they could have a happy childhood. And, the project’s impact on this colony is actually visible, with there being a real difference in the way the community comes together and takes on responsibilities.

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Of Fathers, Daughters and Faith…

“You know what, I am pretty sure I should have scored more in History and Education. I missed the cut off required to move from Humanities to Nursing by a very thin margin. Of course, I’ve given my answer scripts for a recheck. But for now, I am concentrating on taking up English for my graduation and then doing my Masters in Social Work. My end objective remains the same. I want to help people. May be now, I will be able to help a larger number of people if I take up MSW.” History does repeat itself. Ananya Ghosh, a lanky teenager from Dhenua – a small, unassuming little village in the Bardhaman district of West Bengal – recreated history twice when the Higher Secondary Examination results were announced last week.

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Books, bricks and a lot more…

 

One of the hardest things to do is break the truth to a child about how the world isn’t as rosy as they are told it is. These words often come from loved ones, parents, family and friends, but when it comes to harsh realities that these very individuals would never wish upon children, they risk raising them in an environment of ignorance. In matters like this, it is up to total strangers to do the needful, often at the expense of seeming purely informative and emotionally removed from the equation.

In an attempt akin to the above, members of the Intern team, here at CRY West, set off to Phoenix Marketcity Kurla, a major shopping centre in east Mumbai to engage with visitors through a few interesting interactions on the occasion of World Against Child Labour Day.

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Back on the right track!

At 14 years, when most school kids are obsessed with movies and friends and gossip, Anitha had her head on a completely different set of things – grazing the landlord’s cattle and doing his household chores. And this would have been her life – a story of untapped potential and lost childhood – if the CRY supported project, Association for Social Economical Educational Cultural Health and Environment Development (PEOPLE) hadn’t rescued her from the venomous fangs of child labour.

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Taboo Talk

Tanya Dhingra wanted to take a tabooed conversation to them. Them. The girls whose voiceless cries always went unheard. And, she wanted to make sure that they’ll always remember it. Remember that they are not impure, not unworthy, that God doesn’t hate them.

She wanted to talk to them about periods.

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Helping Victims of Child Slavery and Giving Them a New Life

A phone call at the dead of the night is seldom good news. However, for the Aimol* family what followed was not only shocking but also something that would change their lives forever. Their daughter Julie* had bagged a job opportunity abroad the month before and the family had been ecstatic. The employment agency had taken her and seven other girls. The family was waiting for good fortune to unfold. Little did they know that the reality would be dark, dangerous and gloomy. Julie and the other girls were taken to Myanmar, where their identity documents were forged and then to Singapore. They realised they had no clue about their final destination. As luck would have it, they were forced to lodge in a hotel in Yangon enroute to Singapore. Luckily, Julie managed to call home from there.

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Breaking the Silence

I still remember the day I got my period. I was in the sixth grade and I came back home to a stained underwear. I remember being so scared that I locked myself up in the bathroom and cried.

I cried because I didn’t know what was happening. While each woman’s menstrual experience is unique, there definitely are aspects which we can prepare young girls for; and that’s what I hoped to achieve. Knowing about our bodies and the changes we go through can relieve us of the stress we’re likely to face when something unexpected happens.

I’m glad I approached CRY. To my surprise, Tanya had already started a program with a similar end goal. Thus, I must begin by thanking Menstrupedia for providing us with the most amazing video.

I must also thank UCB for making my vision of providing good quality cotton pads possible. As mentioned earlier, most women are still using cloth during their periods. Thus, it was important for me to give them a safer, yet familiar alternative.

Finally, I must thank the CRY JMC team for coming onboard and giving it their very best. The relentless effort put in by these 16 girls has set an example for the rest of us.

 

Devika Chopra, Facilitator

A chance encounter –and memories to cherish

As an intern, I don’t very often get to spend time with kids. So when presented with an opportunity to train kids for “World Dance Day” celebration, I thought, “why not?”

They had no idea what World Dance Day meant but it didn’t matter. Cause the word “dance” was there and they knew what that meant. They also understood that there was going to be a video recording. Suddenly a question sprouted from one of the tiny mouths – “Are we doing Kuthu dance, Belly Dance or Bollywood Dance?” And suddenly the room erupted with different kinds of dances. Some of which, I suspect, were original forms.

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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.