Annual Sports Event in Ward 26.
Better Childhoods, Brighter Futures
A warm welcome from the VITAL team both to our project and our first-ever report for our GlobalGiving supporters!
March 31st marked the official end of our project phase 2018/2019 and we cannot wait to tell you all about what our children have been up to!
Our project is implemented by the Child in Need Institute in Kolkata and runs from April 1st-March 31st every year, whilst VITAL has been supporting this project since 2008. In fact, we are proud to say that NO child has followed their parents’ footsteps into second-generation prostitution since the project’s inception! We are incredibly proud of this achievement and we only have amazing donors such as yourselves to thank.
In March 2019 we also received a grant of £1,000 for this project for the year 2019/2020. This doesn’t mean that our work ends here though, YOU can still make a difference by donating and helping to ensure that our project is fully-funded for the year, in order to protect, educate and empower our children.
In the red light district of Rambagan, life is hard for many of our beneficiaries whom often live in single roomed houses with up to 6 family members. This means that they have no place to study, no place to relax and a loud environment which prevents being able to focus. Our educational support centres run from 18:00-22:00 specifically to coincide with the peak sex-trade time in the area and ensure that NO child is left on the street or in the same room whilst such work is undertaken. Through 5, age-specific centres, our children are provided with a safe haven away from dangers prevalent in the area. More importantly, these centres target one of the root causes of poverty in the area: the absence of educational provisions and support, hence our children can be equipped with the skills and knowledge to break this cycle of poverty- culminating in forced sex-work- and inspire future generations to also aspire to be what they would like!
As of April 2019, the class- and gender-wise distribution of children at each Centre is as follows:
Shishughar- Creche: 26 Boys; 27 Girls
Ashaghar- KG to Class II: 25 Boys; 27 Girls
Chayan- Classes III to V: 69 Boys; 54 Girls
Nabouday- Classes VI to VIII: 75 Boys; 61 Girls
Pather Sathi- Classes IX to XII: 88 Boys; 49 Girls
On average, the attendance at all 5 centres has been 71.3%- a figure which fluctuates depending on the time of year and we aim to increase this average by 3% in the next year.
As always, capacity-building remans an integral part of our project activities and sustainability initiatives. Our kids are awesome. In 2016, the Children’s Parliament- created by the children, for the children and initiated by one project graduate who has now obtained her undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Sociology and Social Work- successfully lobbied the Government of India to declare July 9th as National Child Protection Day! This year, they have encouraged more children to attend our project regularly and they have ensured that our Child Friendly Community is underway by working hard with the Ward Level Child Protection Committee to collectively analyse, plan and monitor progress, for a sustained approach to Child Rights. Moreover, they are combing their talents with awareness-raising and created amazing posters during our most-recent trip to Kolkata!
Stakeholder participation is an integral aspect of our project and for this reason, we hold monthly, mutual support meetings for mothers, who benefit from a platform to speak out about problems affecting them, such as domestic abuse, whilst also being able to speak with other mothers and our staff about best practices in raising children! We are SO proud of our mothers. It has taken a couple of years for them to fully come on board with our project and services, but during our most-recent trip to Kolkata they REALLY impressed us. When asked whether Child Marriage is ‘wrong’ or ‘right’, they punched their arms in the air with such gusto and screamed WRONG!, that we burst into a round of applause for them!
The stigma associated with sex work means that our children remain unwilling to disclose their home addresses to peers in formal government schools, whilst living in a red light district opens them up to countless potential abuses. In the last year, 105 children (52 boys and 53 girls) received individual and/or group counselling, in addition to:
Art Therapy- entailing painting, drawing, sketching and colouring;
Play Therapy- entailing children playing with different toys, for our counsellors to see how the children interact with toys as a reflection of their mental well-being;
Dance Movement Therapy- which helps children to relieve stress and anxiety, whilst bringing children together to collectively work on choreography
In addition to educational support, counselling and advocacy activities which ensure that Child Rights are entrenched in Rambagan, all of our children participate in various activities and celebrations throughout the year, including: Holi; Child Right’s Week; Children’s Day; Annual Sports Programme; Annual Picnic; Independence Day; Raksha Bandhan; National Girl Child Day; and the Kanyashree Day Programme. Kanyashree is a State-sponsored scheme which provides each Girl Child, who remains in education until the legal marriage age (18), with Rs.25,000/P.A and 4 children from our project took part in the programme held in Ward Number 26, through dancing, singing, theatre and poetry recitation, for which they all received awards.
VITAL Stories of Change
Riya (name changed) regularly attends our centre at Rambagan. When, for a short period, we noticed that she was not attending, a home visit was conducted through which it was found that she was suffering from Tuberculosis after contracting this from her mother. Her condition did not permit her to leave home and she was also required to take care of her younger sister, as her mother was working as a maid. It was at this point that our project staff took the decision to help Riya through this illness and supported her through medical and nutritional aid. Riya was taken for regular check-ups and provided with a 6-month medicinal course.
After this, home visits were conducted to ensure that her medicines were being taken regularly and that she was receiving the required nutrition to sustain her health and fitness. Her health has improved to a great extent and she has recovered from the disease. She now attends the Centre on a regular basis.
While we welcome all donors to accompany us on trips to Kolkata, we know that most of you will never get to meet our fun, loving, intelligent children. Our children are just the same as those in more economically developed countries though- as they, too, aspire to a life of dignity and Better Childhoods, Brighter Futures. You can, however, help us to ensure that this project continues to protect, educate and empower our children by continuing to donate.
In the meantime, if you have any questions about our project, please don’t hesitate to contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wish best wishes, love, and Thank You! to all of our amazing donors, always,
The VITAL Team
Our creative children: poster-making workshop!
Child Rights Posters
Our creative children: poster-making workshop!
Mothers' Meeting- November 2018 Trip
Kanyashree Programme 2018