Featured Image_5 friends

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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shubham

From Darkness to Light

Shivam, lovingly known as Shubham, is a dedicated young student from KunchiKurve Nagar near Kalina in Mumbai.

He was about to quit education and therefore give up his chance to a better life when he got his eye hurt while playing with his siblings. He took care of it by going to the nearby dispensary where he was prescribed an eye drop. His condition deteriorated but Shubham and his family were optimistic that within a matter of time, the pain would subside so he resumed his daily activity of going to school.

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Siya Dulari

She turned it around – And how!

Siya Dulari’s story could have been about a child bride who at the age of 14 years found herself abandoned by her spouse…and with 3 children to look after…and like innumerable such stories her life would have been remembered as an endless saga of suffering.

But Siya Dulari gave her story a different turn…She enrolled herself for schooling and higher studies and completed her graduation.

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CSA

Breaking the Silence around Child Sexual Abuse

Innocence is beautiful; it is sometimes also vulnerable, like a small new bloom. It is indeed disgraceful and inhuman when this innocence is vandalized.

Children personify beautiful hearts which have known nothing but love and liveliness, their giggles which resonate their free spirits and their endless laughter which can make one let go of their worries. They are a treasure and they should only be handled with tenderness and endearment.

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Ujjawal

I cycled 2500 km for CRY, here’s why

Each one of us has gone through the anguish of having to witness children begging at traffic lights. Their eyes are filled with hopes shrouded by misery and helplessness. In between these 60 seconds of glimpse into violated lives, we take out a coin from our pocket to give it to them. That coin is allegoric to the pity that brims our heart for these children. But with this act, we comfort ourselves that we did our share for them.

In this case, we turn ourselves emotionally blind, to refuse innately to work for them. Thinking that apart from giving that coin, there is nothing we are capable of, or can do to bring long-term change.

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vishwa

The Privilege of Guarantees

Working as an intern for CRY, I recently went for a project visit to the Ambedkar Nagar community in Sion Koliwada, Mumbai. Ambedkar Nagar is one of the many slum areas that CRY’s partner NGO Sparsh works in. Sparsh is made up of a group of volunteer teachers who conduct classes and teaching sessions to help the community children keep up with their education and aspire for a better future. At first, I was unsure of what to expect as I was told that the community members may be hesitant to open up to an outsider. My local guide, Santosh, introduced me to some Sparsh teachers, and through them I was introduced to the Vishwakarma family. To my surprise, they warmly welcomed me into their home and even offered me a packet of biscuits they keep for special visitors. After we were more comfortable with each other, they agreed to talk to me about their lives, an experience which really made me reflect on my socio-economic ‘privilege of guarantees’. The next few paragraphs will explain what I mean by this.READ MORE

Jayam

Do not let History Repeat Itself with Child Slavery

As a Dalit girl, Jayam Manohar was a victim of various inhuman practices. Life was not easy for her in a community where a semi-feudal system is still prevalent. She was treated as an untouchable. Her family was a victim of bonded labour, a system which traps marginalised Dalit families into a lifelong cycle of indebtedness thereby, leading to the denial of every right of children and family members. They are forced to work for long hours without wages and have no access to education. As a child, Jayam was forced to work as a bonded labourer for almost 15-16 hours a day. Thanks to feeble laws in the country, not enough actions were taken to stop child labour.

Later, poverty and the social pressure made her a child bride. The sex ratio of her district was 929 against the state ratio of 972 and the child sex ratio was 918 in the district against the state ratio of 946. In such a social setting, she was also forced to undergo female foeticide. It is hard to see that there has never been a child education plan in the process but only marriage.

Her experiences as a child bride, child labourer and a victim of female foeticide and un-touchability have fueled her efforts to bring to light the plight of people and children ruthlessly crushed under these practices.

She started working for others in her community because she had an urge to interact with other people who went through circumstances similar to hers. She decided to personally ask people whether any of their family members were a victim of such social evils. This constant questioning helped her fathom the gravity of these issues.

Jayam now spearheads the Salem People Trust (SPT), a non government organization (NGO) that works for the most marginalised, especially children. Her team consists of people who have been victims of exploitation. She works extensively against bonded labour, female foeticide, infant mortality, child labour, child marriage and illiteracy. Owing to her experience, she is now aware of every single nuance related to such issues. She has been consistently fighting against child slavery.

Through her efforts, 28 families were brought out of bonded labour and 98 children from these families were enrolled in schools. 227 children were re-enrolled in school including 60 child labour from bonded labour families. 28 parents of child labourers were enrolled in MNREGA. 140 part time child labourers and dropouts were re-enrolled in schools.

She has prevented 86 female foeticides and 34 infant foeticide in the past four years. Her persistent efforts resulted in a scan centre in Vazhapadi to shut down because it was undertaking sex determination test and performing female foeticide. Over the last five years, Jayam was able to completely stop the practice of delivering babies at home. She stopped five Dhais (local midwives) from undertaking female foeticides and home deliveries. She prevented 16 child marriages by counselling the parents and panchayat leaders, and motivated them to enrol children in HSS.

These are just a few of her many accomplishments. Jayam is still not satisfied with her impact. She is determined to do a lot more and ensure that government addresses these issues and helps change the whole scenario. Her experience and commitment to the cause are visible in her work.

Do you want to create more stories of change? As a citizen, you can donate and help a child have a fruitful life. Donate for children as they need help to grow and lead a better life.

Salem Peoples Trust is a project supported by CRY and Genius Consultants Pvt. Ltd.

Anuja Blog Piece - protection

Let’s Equip Ourselves for Better Child Welfare to Protect Our Young Citizens

When an unfortunate incident happens with children, it fills our heart and soul with immense grief and anger. In India, every fifth minute there is an occurrence of crime against children, however what shakes us the most in the Ryan International case is the fact that crime took place within the four walls of the school which is considered to be safe place for a child. There are numerous cases which time and again have proven that protection of children at school level is clearly compromised. This recent untowardly incident has escalated the much needed aspect of child protection at school level. It is certain that at present school going children and children who access any such institution such as an Anganwadi, private play school, crèche, day care center or other institutions are not completely protected.

Child welfare and protection isn’t a simple process which can be fixed with ensuring some minimum required protocols in place. It is about a range of things starting from empowering children themselves to establishing clear accountabilities. It is about prevention, timely response/action and in cases of violation a decisive action by duty bearers involving punitive action followed by speedy closure of a case.

A child resides in an ‘adult dominated world’, and sadly our notion of safety is not ‘child-centric’. We conveniently assume that children are at risk with a stranger or a school bus driver and not at risk with a relative. We are extremely worried when a child is exposed to risk if s/he crosses a heavy traffic road and we don’t find it threatening when s/he sits for 6 hours in a dilapidated school / Angwandi building. We often say ‘world outside it very bad’, but often do not invest in making children learn about personal safety which could arise from known people or complete strangers. In India, the perception and palpability of risk for children is very low. The overall understanding that children’s protection encompasses a lot of obvious as well as obscure aspects and it is something which is not understood and acted upon by duty bearers and caregivers of children.

As a non government organization, when we look at children’s protection in the realm of school safety we somewhere narrow the holistic protection. We are today in a society where a lot of times violation of children’s right within the school is not even seen as anything wrong. On a daily basis children face various forms of corporal punishment, they are shamed, beaten, discriminated, mistreated and in most of the cases it is considered ‘normal’ or a way to ‘discipline’ children. The powerful adult doesn’t even comprehend the damage done intentionally or un-intentionally to the child’s psyche. The protection canvas for children is much wider and entails everything which makes the child access to school and stay safe inside the school. On one end it is about making sure that road to school and transport to school is safe and on the other hand it is also about operationalising the laid out protocols and guidelines and making child protection an intrinsic part of educational institute’s ethos and institutional laid out principles. It is about working on preventive aspects with building greater awareness and equipping adults to address issues of child protection and appropriately respond. It is investing in building the agency in children and empowering them to act, react and seek help whenever their safety is compromised. And most importantly having conversations with children and making options available for children to let them confide and talk. The main objective is to save children from any atrocity or problems.

There is a dire need for us as a society to invest in child support and safety and considerably bring about a systemic change in every aspect which touches a child’s world. For the population of 444 million children under the age of 18 years, we have allocated only 1062 crores for Child Protection in 2017-18 Union Budget out of which highest share going to Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS) of 648 crores. There is almost negligible budget parked for awareness building and preventive aspects. Investment in laying down various preventive mechanisms is extremely crucial and for which increased investment in human resource, training as well as technology is imperative. The discourse cannot just curtail itself to having better facilities in school bus, replacing all staff with female staff in the school.

We as a non profit organization know that a large number of children in India walk to school, access over crowded private transport and public buses and forget closed circuit television camera, the sheer availability of electricity is absent.

The need of the hour is strong political will and clearly laid out accountabilities for duty bearers in order to protect our young citizens and create mass awareness and sensitization to build a society where every adult does everything it takes in their will, and capacity to make sure all children are always safe.

We at CRY aim to assemble facilities and activities that are critical for children and their welfare. You can be a part of us too. By doing online donation, you can help and extend your support to the children. This is how you can contribute to the society and nation as a whole.

The writer, Anuja Kastia is Associate General Manager, Policy & Advocacy, CRY

 

KG FI

Fighting Malnutrition for Child Welfare in Chhattisgarh with Kitchen Gardens

Introducing kitchen gardens in anganwadis in Chhattisgarh is an initiative that will be an effective step towards addressing malnutrition in one of the poorest states of the country. This has greatly boosted the morale of the anganwadi workers working in the region where the situation of malnutrition is worrying. In a bid to provide fresh and healthy food to children and expectant mothers, anganwadis in remote areas of Gariyaband and Korba district have set up kitchen gardens in their backyards. Child support and welfare are the prime objectives for any anganwadi.

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Featured Image Parikkhit blog

Football, Frolic and Fun

The ides of July will be a day to remember always. Soccer for Child Rights, at last, and my first soccer event at CRY making it all the more enthralling. Soccer has always been synonymous with excitement, nerve-wrecking minutes, all the dramatics, and high-octane energy; add an underlying cause to the game that unites more than half the world and you have Soccer for Child Rights. With an ideology of ensuring that children, not as privileged as you and I, are entitled to their basic rights, Soccer for Child Rights over the years has made wonders, a truth I have learnt as a CRY volunteer.READ MORE

Raj Bhushan

Big dreams from a small town…

I am Rajbhushan Awadhiya coming from a dreamy small town-Jhumri Talaiya- mostly heard in radios and nowadays in films too. Even today, a lot of people think it does not exist in real life.

Back at home, I have three younger brothers. My father is a government employee and a social worker.  For the last 10 years, I have seen him offering tuition and even providing scholarship, from a part of his salary, in Sainik School. As a kid, I remember telling people how I want to be able to help people when I grow up.

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