Jun 6, 2013

No Child Labour Day & new research programme

Balsena smiles
Balsena smiles

No Child Labour Day in India

30th April was a busy day for the whole Shaishav team as they worked to spread the message about child labour and promote the long-term value of education. Shaishav staff ran an informal session for child labourers, affording children the day off and giving them an opportunity to come together in a safe and secure environment to look at some of the issues they face. The main focus of the day was fun and games – a precious chance to relax, make new friends and just be kids for the day.

We also ran our School Enrollment Drives in several schools at the same time that students went to collect their exam results, so we could help them secure the next stage in their education immediately and get them on the path towards a sustainable livelihood.

In the evening the team went to local areas where child labourers are known to work, like food and drinks stands, to distribute pamphlets about support services and begin one-to-one conversations to get these children into education. 

Let us know any about any activities you are planning for World Day Against Child Labour on 12th June.

New child-led research project: Child Friendly Communities

Balsena children and Tarunsena youth have been very busy conducting large-scale action research across Bhavnagar for the last few weeks. Shaishav was selected as a pilot organisation for a new child friendly communities research tool kit being pioneered by CERG – the Child Environments Research Group, part of City University New York. Sruthi Atmakur from CERG and Shaishav’s Executive Director Parul Sheth delivered 3 days of intensive training to 47 youngsters in May, building valuable new skills and equipping them to carry out detailed data
collection across 7 slum communities in Bhavnagar to understand the challenges children face and understand how to make their homes, schools, hospitals and neighbourhoods more child-friendly.

Balsena and Tarunsena members brought their innovation, creativity and problem-solving capabilities to the pilot study – identifying many new indicators which CERG can incorporate into their toolkit, and also trying out a new method of data collection using computers on the Shaishav bus (our mobile resource centre) to attract respondents and give them an opportunity to gain valuable new computer skills. This work will continue throughout the summer, with the analysis and report produced later this year.

Shaishav are pleased to be able to take part in this important pilot to refine and develop the research toolkit, especially as some Balsena and Tarunsena members have already honed their research skills during our last action research project – the Child Rights Audit – in 2009. Another one of the pilots was conducted in a school in Haiti after the earthquake to understand how best to develop child-friendly environments after such a huge disaster.

Let us know what you are doing to make your communities more child- friendly. Get in touch on shaishav93@gmail.com – we’d love to hear your ideas and learn something new.

Thank you for your support for Shaishav. The Balsena and Tarunsena members are grateful for your support to allow them continue to spread messages of positive change across Bhavnagar and beyond.

Young labourer enjoying No Child Labour Day
Young labourer enjoying No Child Labour Day
Fun and games on No Child Labour Day
Fun and games on No Child Labour Day
Balsena Council planning session
Balsena Council planning session
Mar 4, 2013

Community Change through Campaigning, Collaborating and Commemorating

Balsena members celebrate 10 years of work
Balsena members celebrate 10 years of work

Throughout January and December, Shaishav staff and youth collective members of Tarunsena trained themselves to perform street theater as a tool to teach small communities throughout Bhavnagar about the Right to Education Act (RTE) and the purpose of School Management Committees to ensure proper, efficient implementation of the act and provide quality education to the children. The Right to Education is India’s declaration of quality education as a fundamental right for the first time in Indian constitutional history. Through 75 street theatre performances in over 50 communities in the city of Bhavnagar, Shaishav, Balsena and Tarunsena teams roused audiences to engage with questions like: “The RTE tells us that every school should have a mid-day meal, gender specific toilet facilities, and qualified teachers promoting quality education. Is this happening in your school?” Over 10,000 citizens, adults and children, engaged with these performances. The actors urged parents to take an active role in their child’s School Management Committee to ensure these fundamental rights are being met.

In addition to community based performances, Shaishav hosted a state level event on January 17th, 18th and 19th that incorporated the participation of 80 child and adult representatives of 13 different NGOs throughout Gujarat. The event was held to develop an action plan that addresses the involvement of youth in governance which was developed by each participating organization. Throughout the three days, participants attended various sessions on what it takes to work collaboratively and how adults can help youth in working together for their goals. The event was a great networking opportunity for like-minded organizations as well as a time to fully develop a child participation model to implement in their organizations.

Just a few days after the consultation, Shaishav held the 10th annual celebration of Balsena, the children’s collective. The event started with a rally through one of the main streets in Bhavnagar and led to Shamaldas college campus where children started the ceremonies with dancing, snacks and flag raising. Children spent the morning learning about safety and protection from Shaishav staff and Tarunsena youth. Safety and protection has become a significant topic in light of the Delhi rape case in December 2012. In the afternoon, Balsena members displayed the collective’s history and the children got to engage with a guest speaker on her journey as a former national volleyball player who is now an amputee and continues to pursue life to the fullest as she preps to climb Mt. Everest this spring. The parents of active Balsena and Tarunsena members were felicitated for supporting their children in their journey of empowerment. The day was full of infectious inspiration and a sense of solidarity as members, parents, and Shaishav staff celebrated the hard work the collective has accomplished in the last year.

Although Shaishav functions as a direct service provider through programs like Balsena and Tarunsena, the organization has been working to establish itself as a resource and training support for like-minded organizations and individuals since 2008. In January, Shaishav had the long awaited opportunity to present its Child Rights and Resource Training Center to the public as the future home of exceptional training in child rights, participation, and community action through youth leadership. The inauguration of the building was attended by important community leaders and supporters as well as Balsena and Tarunsena youth. Attendees got to celebrate the beginning of a new chapter for Shaishav.  

Throughout all the events, Shaishav has been continuously appreciative of the funding it has received to make its efforts possible. As an engaged follower and a funder, we send you our utmost gratitude in continuing the work that Shaishav believes to be most essential in furthering the capacity of youth to make community wide change through the development of themselves and their peers. 

Shaishav staff teach communities about the RTE Act
Shaishav staff teach communities about the RTE Act
Children leading a State Consultation workshop
Children leading a State Consultation workshop
Former Presideent Daksha gives chief guest gift
Former Presideent Daksha gives chief guest gift
Dec 3, 2012

New Centre and Balsena Election

Balsena Election Candidates
Balsena Election Candidates

The last few weeks have seen a very exciting development. After many months of working with a large number of donors, government officials and many other people, we have finally secured a new building to house our work. This new building will hold all of Shaishav’s office based operations, but most importantly, it will allow our Child Rights Training and Resource Centre (CRTRC) to develop into the state-wide source of experience, knowledge and materials that we had envisaged.

The CRTRC was originally created in 2009, and has already been very successful. The centre has supported and strengthened Shaishav’s many educational programmes, and enabled us to develop and expand the collective capacities of our staff and beneficiaries, as well as those of other organisations.

However, despite these achievements, the CRTRC has been limited by a lack of dedicated space in which it can conduct its operations. It has needed space in which it can conduct its training workshops, carry out its advocacy and networking roles, and better cooperate with other Shaishav programmes. It is for these reasons that the purchase of a new building was so necessary. The building will provide Shaishav with a large multi-purpose hall, an administrative wing, small catering facilities, audio/visual learning resources and a large library and resource centre. There is also a large outdoor space that can be used for various programmes.

More space will provide many benefits, both for the children and the greater community. We will be able to provide a greater level of safety and security to children in an environment without the risk of injury. We will also be able to offer a much higher level of stability to many of our programmes, providing us with a permanently available space for events, rather than having to continuously search for something suitable on the dates that we need it. Finally, the new building will allow Shaishav to develop and expand on our work surrounding child rights and participation, free from the constraints of our current small office. We will be able to offer training sessions for large groups of people of over 100 or more, whereas currently we can only work with about 30 people at a time. Our aim is to hold large residential training workshops in the future. We will be inaugurating the new building on 26th January 2013.

In other news, Balsena held it’s Presidential election on 30th September, in which all members of the Balsena Council participated. Members discussed the strengths of each of the seven candidates and voted based on a variety of different criteria including speaking skills, Hindi and English language knowledge, ability to give and receive training, ability to attend events outside of Bhavnagar and whether they can spare time for these responsibilities. Voting was undertaken using the weighted average ranking system.

Gender equality is fully ingrained into Balsena and there is always a gender balance in Balsena’s leaders. If the President is a girl then the Vice-President must be a boy and vice-versa. Of Balsena’s ten Presidents so far, eight have been girls. This year Drashti won the election and became President and Pankaj became Vice-President.

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