India’s fight for the rights of every child, to offer them protection and all the parameters of well-being is a crucial one. Its victory being so critical, India must question its shortcomings, and the inabilities of a nation, legislation, communities, and individuals to empower children to protect themselves. Yet, despite our best efforts, street children and those forced into cruel fates like child labour are deprived of almost all the rights embodied by child rights. Neither homes nor orphanages can give them the care and support they need, and they take to the streets, destined to become victims of exploitation of all kinds.
Why empower children?
It is not possible anymore to merely rely on formal institutions for child care – helpless children are exploited by the people and authorities assigned for their protection. The lack of long-term, caring, sustained relationships pushes them to adopt escapist tendencies, and eventually taking to a life of casual crime. Their living conditions are less than human. They sleep in garbage containers, on the streets, begging and stealing for the next meal.
The NGO is capable of creating constant dialogue on the child poverty and homelessness, and drive the impetus for change. This will involve ensuring that key messages reach politicians and authorities. It also involves ensuring that the children themselves speak up and communicate their desire for change, as well as the difficulties they face in attempting to access a safe, stable and normal childhood.
Save the Children’s role in empowering children
Leading child rights NGO Save the Children helps form Children Groups, which bring together vulnerable children in a community. These children are then trained and counselled to collectively identify solutions to help themselves and each other, and be responsible for the collective defense and protection of child rights in their area. Over time, these children can identify and prevent cases of child marriage, child trafficking, child abuse and child labour.
In many villages, the NGO runs active Child Protection Committee and Children Groups. These setups ensure that children are rescued from child labour and enrolled in school. Further dialogue with their family members and community leaders ensure that education is prioritized over all other aspects of her life.
After participation in regular meetings with the children’s groups, ordinary children become capable of advising others of the ill effects of child labour, early marriage and other evils. The NGO organises cultural activities to highlight these messages, including creatives workshop, and days training sessions on topics like Effective Communication. This gives them exposure to leadership qualities, and skills in decision-making skills, and community mobilization. Through this, they develop an empowered mindset, making them agents of transformation in their respective communities.
After this training, they can change the social mores, and participate in activities with such as street plays orientation of children on life skill education, and school enrolment drives, taking charge of children who have been missing from schools. They also counsel their peer groups on the ill-effects of trafficking and other social evils.
Save the Children’s ability to harness the collective strength of children to resolve their own problems is just one of the many initiatives has undertaken across the country. Through campaigns across cities as diverse as Delhi, Bihar, Jharkhand, Assam, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Odisha, Jammu and Kashmir and Andhra Pradesh, it undertakes dialogue with youth, parents, children, and community members on the viable alternatives offered by civil society. Along with support, these initiatives require regular funding. Donate to NGO fundraising to do your bit for today’s children. When you donate money>/a>, you are participating in a massive movement for social change.