Over the past year, this project has made a massive difference to child laborers and children who at risk of entering exploitative work in Myagdi district, West Nepal. Central to this is the Drop-in Center, run by International Childcare Trust's partner, REEC.
Access to basic services for child laborers through the Drop-in Centre (DIC)
Since March 2011, 438 child laborers (240 boys and 198 girls) had regular access to health services, non-formal education and play and recreation activities at the DIC. The DIC is central to reintegrating separated children back into their families and communities and providing legal aid to children who have suffered abuse and exploitation. The DIC also runs the outreach programme which enables identification and withdrawal of child laborers form the worst form of child laborer by decreasing their working hour and facilitating school enrollment. The DIC also provides essential support to the child laborers and children at risk, providing vital basic services and protecting them from abuse and exploitation.
REEC provides a weekly health check-up to child laborers and children at-risk in the area. 373 children (168 boys and 205 girls) were examined by a health professional and given appropriate treatment for minor illnesses and ailments. Children identified to have major illnesses are referred to the district hospital or sometimes the regional or zonal hospital for specialized care depending on his/her condition and the availability of qualified staff in the local hospital.
All 438 children participated in awareness-raising sessions on substance abuse, HIV and AIDS and child rights – a combination of lectures and audiovisual means are used for these sessions followed by interactive question and answer session in which the children are encouraged to actively participate.
REEC has placed 10 first aid-medicine kits with local community health workers in 5 villages which have improved children and families’ access to minimum basic health care. This has also improved the rapport between community members and the community health workers, who earlier had the basic knowledge of first aid and basic medicine but did not have the resources to deliver the same. 466 children (206 child laborers and 260 children at-risk) and their families now have access to first-aid and basic medicine in these 5 villages through the efforts of REEC.
Non-formal education (NFE):
18 children are regularly attending NFE at the DIC; NFE comprises of classes on basic literacy, maths and English and hygiene and sanitation. Attending classes at the NFE helps children access basic education and prepares them for entry into formal schooling and potentially reduces the amount of time they spend working.
All children accessing the center participate in sports and recreation activities. The DIC also holds football, volleyball and singing competitions to keep the children engaged and motivate them, increasing their confidence and self-esteem. In the past year, REEC conducted: sports competition including inter-child labour clubs (CLCs) football and volleyball competitions and sprints; singing competitions for girls and boys; and inter-club quiz competitions.
Family reintegration is an important element of our work with child laborers and in line with International Childcare Trust’s (ICT) core strategic focus of protecting children’s rights to be part of families and communities. In the past year, 5 child laborers have been safely reunited with their families within Myagdi and other neighboring districts. REEC works with the child and family to ensure safe reintegration by addressing the root cause of family break-up – this takes series of follow-ups. All reunited children are being followed up to ensure they are enrolled and continue to stay in school.
A 12 year old girl child laborer was supported by REEC to take legal recourse against a neighbor, who was sexually abusing her. The perpetrator has since been duly convicted and imprisoned. REEC’s outreach workers continue to follow up on the case with regular meetings with the child and her family focusing on counseling and in due course outlining a plan, in consultation with the child, for her education and safe employment. Cases like this where children bravely come forward to talk about the abuse suffered are few and far between – REEC’s work on making children aware of their rights including child protection issues is vital to safeguarding the children from abuse and exploitation.
Most children from marginalized communities do not have any legal records of their birth which makes it difficult to get a citizenship card in Nepal, which is important for accessing services within the public system. REEC supported 160 child laborers (91 males and 69 females) to obtain birth registration in this reporting period.
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