A child’s early years are essential to their healthy physical and mental development. Without proper care in these formative years a child’s chances to fully grow are harmed. Stunted emotional and physical development can often lead to early dropout from education.
Many children in India are not cared for in early life as a result of financial difficulties experienced by parents as well as a lack of proper child care awareness. In order to counter these effects, and give children their best start in life, the project provide caregiver training programmes for parents and grandparents of young children.
Vaibhav is one of the children who has benefited from this programme. Vaibhav is one and a half years old. He is from the village of Pokhari. He lives with his mother and father in a mud house. The total household income in the family is the equivalent of £2.50 per day.
Vaibhav came to the attention of project workers when a health survey of children aged 0 – 3 was conducted in his village. The team found that Vaibhav was underweight and malnourished as he had not been breast fed. Vaibhav’s mother had mental health difficulties and had been unable to care for her child. Vaibhav’s grandmother was taking care of Vaibhav but lacked awareness of good child care practices.
The project team advised that Vaibhav’s mother receive treatment for her mental health difficulties. In the meantime Vaibhav’s grandmother completed the project’s caregiver training. Here she learnt about child nutrition, immunisation, weight monitoring and hygiene and sanitation. As part of the follow up to the training project team members continued to visit the family to monitor Vaibhav’s health.
With proper care Vaibhav’s weight went up and he became more active. He is now of normal weight for his age and doing very well. Vaibhav’s mother received counseling and her situation improved. Without the support of the project Vaibhav would still be underweight and his mother struggling to cope. Now they have a brighter future ahead.
Komal is 10 years of age. She lives with her three sisters, brother and parents in a two roomed tin roofed house in the village of Sonewadi.
Komal is very fond of reading. At home and in school she reads newspapers and magazines. However her parents cannot afford to buy books for her. The school she attends has a small library but the selection is small and Komal is unable to take books back home with her.
Komal first heard about the project’s mobile library from one of her neighbours. The mobile library provides a selection of 3,000 books for children in 36 local villages. As a regular user of the library Komal has been able to read a wide variety of books she previously did not have access to.
Komal likes to read the educational books at the library in particular. As a result Komal’s grades have started to improve. She is now studying for a scholarship to finance her further education. She also has inspired her friends to start to read as well.
Komal is one of the thousands of children the mobile library reach each year. This would have been possible without the project and its supporters.
Sarthak, aged 9, comes from the village of Sonewadi in Maharashtra, India. He lives with his father, mother and four sisters in a two roomed, tin roofed house. The total household income for the family is the equivalent of £1.60 per day.
Sarthak came into contact with the project through his local Child Parliament. The project’s Child Parliaments encourage children to shape their future though collective decision making on issues that are of importance to them. They also play a role in educating children on issues such as education, child rights and gender equality. Sarthak had the role of Health Minister with his local Parliament which meant he was responsible for raising awareness of hygiene and sanitation with his fellow students.
However Sarthak’s Mother was concerned about Sarthak’s performance at school. Though he had lots of energy he rarely focussed on his studies and spent much of his time playing and joking. Through the Child Parliament the project team heard about Sarthak’s difficulty with his school work. A project social worker started to give individual attention to Sarthak and to convince him of the necessity of thinking about his future. He encouraged Sarthak to apply his energy in school as well as in the Child Parliament.
With one on one care Sarthak has started to show a real interest in his studies. He goes to his teachers with anything he does not understand and studies with his friends so they can help each other. Through the Child Parliament he has begun acting in street theatre plays designed to inform children of the importance of education. He has also started growing vegetables like potatoes and chillies at the front of his house.
Now Sarthak is studying for the state scholarship programme. His Mother has noticed a huge improvement in his grades and is very grateful to the project for helping her son reach his full potential. None of this would have been possible without the project and its supporters.
Often parents in India pull their children out of school so they can work to supplement the meagre family income. In order that kids stay in school the needs of parents to earn a decent income must be addressed. That is why the project looks to give women livelihood opportunities in sewing and stitching. With the income they earn families are better able to support their children’s continuing education.
Rubina, 25, lives in the village of Kerula with her husband and three small children. Her husband works as a driver and earns around £50 per month. Before she contacted the project Rubina spent most of her day taking care of the children and doing household chores.
Rubina had dropped out of school after 10th standard like many young girls in Indian society. When a team member told Rubina about the project’s free vocational skills course for women she didn’t have the confidence to enrol. But with some encouragement from the project worker she agreed to take a place in the stitching and sewing course.
During the one month course Rubina was able to leave her children with the project crèche while she took classes. She quickly excelled and after she graduated from the course Rubina was stitching pillows and curtains to a professional standard. But without a sewing machine of her own Rubina couldn’t practise or use her new skills at home.
The course teacher was able to lend Rubina an old sewing machine so she could practise until she was in a position to buy a machine of her own. After a few months Rubina’s husband agreed to pay the money to buy a new sewing machine. It wasn’t long before Rubina was bringing in income from orders from the neighbouring villages.
Without the project and its supporters Rubina would not have found the confidence to learn a new skill and earn income of her own. She is extremely grateful for the opportunity this has afforded her.
The project team are working hard to reach their set targets of helping 10,000 kids to stay in education and break the cycle of poverty that has kept their parents and grandparents marginalised and exploited. They complete project reports every quarter where they evaluate progress made in the previous three months work.
The project has health, livelihood and education aspects to it. In the last quarter the education aspect of the project has achieved some fantastic results:
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