Tens of millions of Indian children are made the victims of exploitative practices like child labour, sexual abuse and trafficking. Despite aggressive attempts to implement a pro-child rights policy environment, India still needs the support of civil society, and concerned citizens to help children. At every stage, India’s children face difficult challenges. The many improvements made for children’s welfare can be credited to India’s NGOs, which have tirelessly provided on-ground support and activism while working with officials.
Here is how India’s NGOs are working as child development NGOs and giving underprivileged children their due:
1. Eliminating child labour
Ten million children today are forced to work 14-16 hour shifts in horrible working conditions, in sectors like farming, stone cutting sector, embroidery and mining industries.
India ranks among the 74 countries with ’significant incidence of critical working conditions’ (US Department of Labor report – List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor).
To end child labour, NGOs offer intervention, both at the demand and supply side.
i. Demand: NGOs educate trade organisation to reach out to business owners and educate them about the evils of child labour. If necessary, NGOs like Save the Children perform regular raids at workplaces like farms and factories where child labour is practiced, and free these children from the practices of bonded labour.
ii. Supply: NGOs also develop relationships with locals in villages and cities to report child labour within businesses. Families are advised to push their child towards higher education, with the support of NGO scholarships and other programs. Access to education and essential services are enabled to prevent families from taking the desperate decision of selling their child into a life of slavery.
2. Education and enrolment
India faces low literacy due to low enrollment, as well as high dropout rates.
How Save the Children is working for child education:
i. Emphasising the importance of education to children and communities
ii. Working to establish ‘safe schools’ that do not discriminate on gender, caste or socio-economic background
iii. ‘Inclusive Learner Friendly Environments’ (children aged 3-18 years)
iv. Pushing for a financial framework supporting the Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act 2009
v. Create fun school environments, using child-friendly and interactive methods
vi. Driving funding for libraries, computers, sports equipment and Mobile Learning Centers
vii. Bringing out-of-school children back to the classroom
viii. Bringing street children and child labourers back to school
3. Rehabilitation and relief
Through awareness campaigns on nutrition and essential health care, NGOs like Save the Children reduce newborn and child deaths. The NGO’s programs are closely linked with Integrated Child Development Services Scheme, Department of Health and Family Welfare and Panchayat Raj Institutions, through whom it pushes for better policies and their implementation.
Additionally, it provides on-ground assistance to Community Healthcare Workers (CHWs) so they can help mothers, newborns and pregnant women. Communities are educated about the importance of natal checkups, hospital deliveries, breastfeeding, and access to nutrition. Malnourished mothers and children are provided cooking demonstrations as well as health camps. In disaster situations, the NGO generates massive fundraising to provide non-stop aid to communities. It does so by reaching out to lakhs who support an NGO rescue operations at such an adverse time.
All these activities are designed keeping one fundamental goal – the rights of a child are not snatched away from them. The idea is to ensure that every child gets what they truly deserve, a healthy start in life, quality education and protection from harm. Save the Children’s campaigns have reduced infant mortality, chronic malnutrition and child trafficking, and increased access to primary and secondary education. The NGO works closely with governments, civil society and community members at a pan-India scale, necessitating heavy investment and infrastructure around the clock as there is always a cause the NGO is tirelessly working for. Donate online to join the movement to give every Indian child a future.