Protect 500 Street & Working Children in India

 
$7,187
$20,763
Raised
Remaining
Training for girls
Training for girls

PROJECT NAME: Protect 500 Street & Working Children in India
PROJECT LOCATION: Dindigul District, Tamil Nadu, India 
LOCAL PARTNER: Arunodhaya Centre for Street and Working Children

This project protects street and working children in the towns of Dindigul, Palani and Vilpatty and prevents young children in remote rural areas leaving home to find exploitative work in these and other towns in the district.
With the support of International Childcare Trust (ICT), Arunodhaya continues to focus their work on improving the lives of street and working children and other vulnerable children through a multi-pronged approach of:

•    Direct intervention - withdrawing children from hazardous work and providing them with education, skills development and economic opportunities; and

•    Prevention - raising awareness among children and communities about child rights and the hazards of child labour; ensuring children are enrolled in school at the right age and providing them with necessary after-school support to prevent drop-out.

Early Childhood Care (ECC)
The project runs a crèche, which offers vital care and support to vulnerable young children of farmers and labourers from Vilpatty, a remote agricultural area in the mountains.  It aims to integrate the wellbeing of young children with their progression and enrollment into primary education.  At the crèche children are offered nutritious food and learning through play, songs and games.  Parents are invited to regular planning meetings to encourage community ownership of the crèche.  In May 2012 there were 23 children (13 boys & 10 girls) attending the crèche, of whom 12 (8 boys & 4 girls) continued to primary school.  Currently 26 children (12 boys and 14 girls) are enrolled at the crèche.

Vocational Training
The project offers vocational skills training to street and working children (aged 14+) in the towns of Dindigul and Palani.  Three vocational courses on welding, electrical and dress making are offered for a period of six months including both theory and practical training.  The project has enrolled 58 youths on the training courses.  Out of the 30 children who completed vocational training this year, 28 are now employed including six who are self-employed; the remaining 28 are still undergoing training.  Most youths feel extremely positive about their chances of securing stable, secure employment following the course. 

Stay tuned for further updates!

Children campaigning for child rights
Children campaigning for child rights

PROJECT NAME: Empower 1,000 Street & Working Children in India
PROJECT LOCATION: Dindigul District, Tamil Nadu, India 
PROJECT PARTNER: Arunodhaya Centre for Street and Working Children

This project protects and promotes the rights of street and working children in the towns of Dindigul, Palani and Vilpatty in Tamil Nadu and prevents young children in remote rural areas leaving home to find exploitative work in these and other towns.

With the support of International Childcare Trust (ICT), Arunodhaya continues to focus their work on improving the lives of street and working children and other vulnerable children through a multi-pronged approach of:

• Direct intervention: withdrawing children from hazardous work and providing them with educational, skill development and economic opportunities; and

• Prevention: raising awareness among children and communities about child rights and hazards of child labour; ensuring children are enrolled into school at the right age and providing them with necessary after-school support to prevent drop-out.

Campaigns

Advocacy is a key element of the programme, which aims to promote community participation in the protection, development and upholding rights of children.  Alongside provision of vital services, campaigning, rallies, public events and formation of Child Protection Committees (CPCs) continue to form an important part of the work.

Two campaigns on children’s rights promotion were recently conducted in Palani during the Poosam festival – a time when many people visit the town, famed for its many temples.  Arunodhaya distributed information on child rights emphasising the importance of children’s education, and the need to eradicate child labour and child marriage.  21 staff members and 26 children from children’s sangams (children’s clubs) in Palani participated in the campaign.  Over 5,000 information leaflets about child labour were distributed in Palani, as well as reaching over 3,000 people and 2,000 shops in Dindigul through a similar campaign.

In August, Arunodhaya also carried out a campaign to enhance community awareness about rising numbers of street children and how children are being used as cheap labour in restaurants.  During the campaign 21 staff and 46 children distributed leaflets to all shop owners on the main streets, people at bus stands and pedestrians on the street.  Furthermore, in July, 31 vocational training students demonstrated against school-drop out, motivating their peers to stay in education by distributing note books and writing materials.

Stay tuned for more updates! 

Children at one of the community centres
Children at one of the community centres

PROJECT NAME: Empower 1,000 Street & Working Children in India

PROJECT LOCATION: Dindigul District, Tamil Nadu, India  

PROJECT PARTNER: Arunodhaya Centre for Street and Working Children

This project protects and promotes the rights of street and working children in the towns of Dindigul, Palani and Vilpatty and prevents young children in remote rural areas leaving home to find exploitative work in these and other towns in Dindigul District.

With the support of International Childcare Trust (ICT), Arunodhaya continues to focus their work on improving the lives of street and working children and other vulnerable children through a multi-pronged approach of 

  • Direct intervention - withdrawing children from hazardous work and providing them with educational, skill development and economic opportunities; and
  • Prevention – raising awareness among children and communities about child rights and hazards of child labour; ensuring children are enrolled into school at the right age and providing them with necessary after-school support to prevent drop-out.

This year Arunodhaya supported 3,509 children (1,504 boys and 2,005 girls) – this included 148 street children, 1,500 working children and 1,861 vulnerable children identified at risk of taking to work on the streets.

Summary of key achievements:

Guided Learning Centers (GLCs)

The project runs GLCs in Dindigul, Vilpatty and Palani. At present there are nine centers in Dindigul, three in Palani and one in Vilpatty. These are community-based centers with teachers helping children with their lessons in school – as most of these children come from families with parents who are unable to read/write, Arunodhaya’s experience shows that children are at higher risk of dropping out as they have minimal support at home with studies. These centers have resulted in marked improvement in children’s school performance and developed their confidence and self-esteem, motivating them to stay in school.

Children Sangams

Twenty one village level children sangams (clubs) have been formed in Dindigul district with 557 children involved. The children meet on a monthly basis learn about their rights and discuss issues affecting children in their communities. All the sangams run systematically with common policy established by each sangam on vision of the sangam, age, activities, subscription costs and training needs. One hundred children involved in the sangams from the Chettinayakkanpatty area signed a petition addressed to the local Panchayat President requesting for repair of a road damaged during the hurricane. The Panchayat took the petition seriously and the road repair was commissioned and completed immediately. Twenty children from three children sangams supported baseline surveys in their respective areas. One of the aims of the children’s sangam is to support children who are not in schools in their area and identify any issues faced by children in their community – this year in addition to participating in the enrollment campaign, the children identified 104 drop out children in their area along with Arunodhaya staff, provided 362 children with educational materials as per need assessed by the children, and supported 12 children in their health needs. Also a children’s sangam from the SR colony petitioned the Panchayat for fitting light bulbs in the communal areas which were approved. Children from the sangams participated in six enrollment campaigns conducted in Dindigul and four campaigns raising awareness on child labor, child marriage and children working in mills – the children participated by going on cycle rallies, voicing slogans and distributing information pamphlets. A sustainable foundation, for participation of children in identifying and resolving issues affecting them has been established.

Ravichandran practicing welding during his course
Ravichandran practicing welding during his course

International Childcare Trust has been working in partnership with Arunodhaya since 2009, supporting Empowerment of Street and Working Children, a project that protects and promotes the rights of street and working children in Dindigul district, Tamil Nadu and prevents young children in remote rural areas leaving home to find exploitative work.

Ravichandran, aged 17, is from Murugabhavanam village in Dindigul district.  On reaching Class 9, he dropped out of school when he was 15, wanting to earn money to support his family.  When Arunodhaya field staff first came into contact with him, he was working on the streets carrying out menial tasks such as rag picking and street hawking.  Having met with him a number of times, slowly building up trust, the team eventually persuaded Ravichandran to return to school, but only on the condition that it was a different school to the previous one.         

He was enrolled into a Government Higher Secondary School but after just a few months he dropped out again as he found it extremely difficult to concentrate and stick to the routine.  Arunodhaya’s field worker again talked to Ravichandran about what he would like to do and encouraged him to take up a skills training course, if schooling wasn’t for him.  He attended the vocational training centre for three days but then left.  After a week, he was re-enrolled in a welding course and the teacher worked closely with him to develop his confidence and self-esteem and ensure he continued the training.

Slowly his confidence and outlook started to change and he began showing interest in learning more about welding.  He successfully completed the course in 2011 and received a certificate, which he is extremely proud of.  He initially joined Sarathy Welding company as a daily wage worker earning Rs100 (£1.33) per day. 

Being a quick learner, he soon built his knowledge and skills and was hired by a larger firm, Majura Steel Company, where he is now earning Rs10,000 (£133) per month.  With his salary he is supporting his sister through school and has helped his family build a new house.  When field staff recently visited his family, his parents were extremely proud of him and expressed their gratitude to Arunodhaya for helping turn his life around.

Every year, schemes in India known as ‘sumangali thittam’ lure thousands of girls, often from poor rural communities, into the garment industry with an incentive of earning their own dowry (marriage payment) at the end of a three-year ‘apprenticeship’.  Instead these young girls end up working in deplorable conditions, returning to their families years later empty-handed due to a lack of legal or regulatory protection.

Amiya* would rather die than go back to working on the sumangali thittam scheme. “I don’t want to live in this world if that happens,” she says, folding and re-folding the material of her pepper red sari on her lap. “I felt like a slave.”

Amiya had planned to work for three years, for a daily wage of 110 rupees (less than £1.50) and an end payment of 40,000 (£520). She lived in a hostel at the mill, and worked from 3.30pm to midnight, or midnight till 8.30am, every night of the week.  Often she would be forced to work a double shift, meaning she would work for eighteen hours, with just two 15-minute breaks. She was given dosa (a pancake made from rice batter) for breakfast, and rice and water for lunch and dinner. Very soon she became anaemic.

Amiya didn’t make it to the end of her contract. Eighteen months in, her friend was found dead during a shift, having consumed chemical hair dye. The supervisors said she had committed suicide “because she was in love with a boy”. Amiya thinks differently. “I think they have done something to her and killed her,” she says, explaining her friend’s body had been found covered with mysterious wounds and bruises.

After that, Amiya persuaded her parents to let her leave the scheme. She has nothing to show for her time in the mill: she spent her wages on treating her anaemia, and was too frightened to ask for any part of the end payment. “I was afraid [the supervisors] would threaten me,” she says.

Through this project, Amiya is now enrolled on a one year technical training course in fashion design at a training centre in Dindigul.  Here she hopes to gain the knowledge and skills required to secure safe employment or start up her own business.

* Name changed to protect anonymity

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Project Leader

Meriel Flint

Fundraising & Marketing Manager
London, United Kingdom

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Map of Protect 500 Street & Working Children in India