Protect 500 Street & Working Children in India

 
$7,187
$20,763
Raised
Remaining
Aug 17, 2010

Local staff trained in psychosocial care & arts therapy!

Every year, due to domestic violence, family breakdown, and the need to supplement the family income, thousands of children migrate to the streets of Palani and Dindigul, often from rural areas such as Vilpatti, a remote village in the Palani Hills. These children forgo their education for work in the manufacturing and tourist industries, while others resort to street hawking, rag picking or begging, especially in and around Dindigul railway station and Palani’s ancient temples. They often end up sleeping in bus shelters or on the streets where they face harassment, violence and exploitation. The majority of these children will join gangs, especially those without a family, turning to alcohol, drug abuse and crime to survive.

This project provides children in Vilpatti with the care and support they so badly need, preventing them from moving to the big cities, while supporting those children already living and working on the streets of Palani and Dindigul. Since the GlobalGiving campaign in 2009, the project has continued to support over 1,000 vulnerable children living in Dindigul District.

As part of this important project, staff at Arunodhaya, International Childcare Trust’s partner in Dindigul District, are about to be trained in psychosocial care and arts therapy. This will enable them to better address the ongoing emotional and psychological needs of street and working children in their care.

Arunodhaya places great emphasis on the healing potential of arts therapy, a less intimidating and traumatic form of counselling, which can provide a channel for children to identify and address hidden issues. For children who have suffered physical, emotional and sexual abuse, the creative arts can be an extremely effective way of helping them deal with these issues by encouraging them to express themselves. As well as having fun, something these children do not often get the chance to do, it can help them cope better with stress, deal with traumatic experiences such as abuse, violence and bereavement, develop their self-confidence and self-esteem, and build stronger relationships with family members.

Thank you so much for contributing to this fantastic campaign! Please contact us if you would like any more information on the project and its progress, and any further donations would, of course, be gratefully received!

May 21, 2010

One year on...

Every year, due to domestic violence, family breakdown, and the need to supplement the family income, thousands of children migrate to the streets of Palani and Dindigul, often from rural areas. These children forgo their education for informal work such as street hawking and rag picking or for work in Dinigul’s many textile spinning mills, while others resort to petty theft or begging, especially in and around Dindigul railway station and Palani’s ancient temples. They often end up sleeping in temples, bus shelters and on the streets where they face harassment, violence and exploitation. The majority of these children will join gangs, especially those without a family, turning to alcohol, drug abuse and crime to survive.

This project is vitally important for children living in Vilpatti, a remote village located in the Palani Hills, and the nearby towns of Palani and Dindigul. Since the GlobalGiving campaign in 2009, the project has continued to support over 1,000 vulnerable children living in the three locations within Dindigul District.

A major element of this project involves lobbying government leaders and institutions to put an end to child labour. ICT’s partner, Arunodhaya, has recently been working to prevent girls joining schemes known as ‘sumangali thittam’ (marriage plans). These schemes - run by textile spinning mills - lure thousands of girls into the garment industry with an incentive of earning their own dowry (marriage payment) at the end of a three-year ‘apprenticeship’. This is, however, one of the most exploitive and abusive employment schemes currently operating in India.

After a textile mill in the town of Dindigul refused to pay the wages of 132 girls employed under the ‘Sumangali’ scheme, a number of like-minded NGOs, coordinated by Arunodhaya, came together to form a network. The network successfully lobbied for a state-level public hearing conducted by the State Women’s Commission - an independent government body, which advises the government on all policy matters affecting women. Approximately 200 people attended the hearing in November 2009, including government officials, several mill owners, and 42 of the aforementioned girls. Having listened to the girls’ heartbreaking stories, which included incidences of sexual harassment and abuse, the commission ruled that:

• All 42 girls present at the hearing should be awarded immediate compensation. • ‘Apprentices’ who choose to/are forced to terminate their contracts must be paid proportionally to the number of days they have worked. • Mills cannot continue to pay apprentices just a lump sum upon completion of a full three year term; and; • The Commission can conduct visits to any textile mill in Tamil Nadu to check working conditions.

Since the hearing, the Commission has carried out a number of spot-checks on textile mills. Although the Commission suspect that some of the mills had been tipped off in advance, the visits highlighted a number of serious issues, including long working hours, violence, and unfair dismissal. The verdict on the legality of the ‘Sumangali’ scheme can, however, only be determined by the High Court, which is currently hearing cases challenging the scheme by two trade unions. This may well be a long process, but one which is vital to the health and wellbeing of thousands of children throughout Tamil Nadu.

Thank you so much for contributing to this fantastic campaign! Please contact us if you would like any more information on the project and its progress, and any further donations would, of course, be gratefully received!

Sep 15, 2009

Providing support for some of the most marginalised children in Dindigul District

Some of the children being supported in Vilpatti
Some of the children being supported in Vilpatti

This project could not be more important for children living in Vilpatti, a remote village located in the Palani Hills, and the nearby towns of Palani and Dindigul. Since the GlobalGiving campaign in April, during which you helped raise over £1,400, the project has helped over 1,000 vulnerable children living in the three locations within Dindigul District. Some of these children have been rescued from the street and reunited with their families; others have received vital training in local trades, enabling them to find safe and secure work. All children are given the appropriate support they so badly need to restart their lives.

Recently, Arunodhaya, ICT’s partner in Tamil Nadu, rescued an 11-year-old girl who was being physically abused by her father. She is now receiving counselling and support to continue with her education. She has just passed her grade five examinations at school and Arunodhaya is currently trying to trace her relatives.

Many children are now benefiting from informal education classes and after-school tuition at Arunodhaya’s Rescue Centres, which are designed to suit the daily routine of street and working children and meet their diverse standards and abilities:

“My family members come home late after their work so I used to play in the streets and in my slum area. But now we go to the community centre in Dindigul. I found that every day the teacher helps us with our home work and once a week there is a general knowledge class. I just passed all my subjects and got 70 marks in maths, which I used to fail before!” (Kumar, 12 years old)

Although the project is making such a difference to the lives of so many children, there is still so much more to do - the issue of bonded labour is an increasing problem in Dindigul. Thousands of girls, often from poor rural communities, are lured into the garment industry with an incentive of earning their own dowry at the end of a three-year apprenticeship. Instead they end up working in deplorable conditions for years earning virtually nothing and often do not receive the final payment. Arunodhaya is now trying to end this exploitative system and provide alternative livelihoods for these children.

Thank you so much for contributing to this fantastic campaign – it really did mean so much to us, and, more importantly, the children the project is supporting in Dindigul District. Please contact us if you would like any more information on the project and its progress, and any further donations would, of course, be gratefully received!

Children in Dindigul receiving training
Children in Dindigul receiving training

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Project Leader

Meriel Flint

Fundraising & Marketing Manager
London, United Kingdom

Where is this project located?

Map of Protect 500 Street & Working Children in India