Taking Learning to the Doorsteps of Children Impacted by the PandemicFive-year old Shivansh was born in a joint family in the state of Uttar Pradesh. He currently lives with his parents and younger brother. Like any other child his age, Shivansh is bright, vivacious and raring to learn about the myriad things that surround him. A child with an extremely friendly nature, Shivansh has made several friends while studying at the Anganwadi (ECCD) Learning Centre.
Back in the year 2019, he enrolled in Save the Children’s Bachpan Project that brings lasting change in the lives of underprivileged children and ensures that they receive adequate health, nutrition, development, and education.
With the onset of COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdown, like all other educational institutions, ECCD centres temporarily shut down as a safety precaution to keep children and teachers at bay from the virus. The shutting down of ECCD impacted Shivansh’s life, putting a full stop to his day-to-day learning at the centre, which he enjoyed thoroughly.
Witnessing a lack of energy and enthusiasm in Shivansh during the initial phase of the lockdown, his mother Mahima, a graduate, decided to take things in her own hands. She knew she couldn’t let her son’s vivacious and eager nature dull down. She took over the task of boosting his energy and enthusiasm by trying to teach him at home. With no prior teaching experience, it turned out to be a tough job for Mahima to teach Shivansh daily.
Post several failed attempts at teaching Shivansh at home, his mother came across Save the Children’s Emergent Learning Material (ELM). The ELM supports the development of foundational early literacy and math skills among young children both inside and outside ECD centers, making learning feasible and enjoyable for children.
At a time when education has become a far-fetched dream for many rural children, Save the Children’s ELM strives to make a huge difference. The kit has been created to train parents around preparing children for preschool, teaching newly enrolled children and those children who will be resuming their learning journey at Anganwadi ECCD centres once they reopen. The community workshops organised in impact areas by Save the Children, around effective usage of ELM, have helped many parents like Mahima rekindle their child’s zest for learning and knowledge attainment.
Having been able to give back the joy of learning to Shivansh, his mother Mahima said “It’s my dream to see Shivansh learn and grow. I want him to shine in academics and work hard to fulfil his dreams. I am happy to be a part of Save the Children’s parents learning group for ELM home-based learning which has taught me to innovate with household items like fruits and vegetables to impart academic concepts in Shivansh’s mind. Thank you, Save the Children for providing opportunities and benefits through your program activities”*Name and image of the child have been changed to ensure the safety.
Ensuring Early Childhood Care and Education for Children Missing out on Anganwadi LearningShweta, a 33-year-old mother to 5-year-old Akshaya, lives in Bashethalli, Doddaballpur. She is a homemaker who begins her day at 6 am by sweeping and mopping the house, cooking for children and washing clothes. All this household work keeps her busy till 9 pm.
Shweta enrolled her child Akshaya in the village Anganwadi (AWC) in 2019, the child had one year at the centre, and everything was going on well when suddenly Covid-19 lockdown was announced. The closing of the AWC disturbed Shweta a lot, as she was concerned about her child’s learning needs. At the same time, she knew that her child’s health is important, and right now, there is a need to stay safe. She did not know how to keep her child engaged but tried spending time with her child talking and listening.
In August 2020, Save the Children’s Cluster Coordinator approached the parent asking to register/be added to a WhatsApp group. The cluster coordinator explained the purpose of the group by mentioning that Save the Children has well-crafted a module called ‘Gulmohar’ that has a pool of activities on Early Childhood Developed, which can help parents with tools and tips to keep children in age group 3-6 years engaged at home in the form of small videos/ Sweta says, “I was so happy to join the group, which is helping my child learn”
Shweta says “I receive the Gulmohar videos every day on my WhatsApp by 10 am. However, busy I am, I keep aside all my work and spend 5 mins to watch the video twice. I finish my household work quickly and sit with my child and practice the activity that I saw in the video. The videos are very interesting! Someday it’s a story; other days, it’s an activity with easily available materials at home. The videos come with a message, and it says what skills the child will learn/develop during the activity. I want to say thanks to all who have worked so that we parents can sit at home and engage our children”.*Name and image of the child have been changed to ensure the safety.
Ensuring Learning Opportunities for
12-year-old NehaNeha is a 12-year-old who lives with her parents and four siblings in a one-room shanty in Okhla, New Delhi. Her father works in the garment manufacturing factory in Okhla, and her mother works as domestic help. Her elder brother and sisters attend school while Neha stays at home to take care of her younger brother, who has a mental disability. At such a young age, she manages all household chores all by herself. Not only household work, but she also undertook piece making work at home.
Save the Children’s team got to know of Neha’s case, and after regular counselling, her family allowed Neha to attend our multipurpose activity centre. She also received training on life skills. The facilitator gradually got to know that she is fond of dancing and keenly interested in becoming a good dancer. She expressed her interest in learning dance through proper training. Our facilitator searched for dance training opportunities and eventually found a dance class for her in her locality, where Neha joined. Currently, she stays quite busy with learning at our multipurpose activity centre, receiving dance training and doing household chores. The exposure through the project has made her more expressive and confident to lead. Her dance teacher says, “She has an excellent quality of expressing herself in the form of dance. She is good at mudras.”
Her mother is happy with her daughter’s progress. She wants to admit Neha to a school. Regretting the lost years of her education, she says, “I was not able to see my daughter’s hidden quality, and I have been unfair to her. I spoiled her childhood and loaded her with responsibilities, but now I want my daughter to study.” The facilitators are finding it difficult to admit her to school as she does not have the relevant documents. Since she has never been to school, many of her relevant documents are missing. Nonetheless, Neha is out of her previous working condition at home and is now pursuing her passion for dance. While our facilitators continue to make efforts to admit her to school (Class V), she feels proud to be able to change her life for good with the field staff’s help.*Name and image of the child have been changed to ensure the safety.
Bridging the Digital Divide, Arti’s Story
from BiharArti Kumari is a class 10th student from the Sakhi village of Riga block in Sitamarhi district of Bihar. Before the pandemic, Arti was leading an everyday life attending school regularly with her peers and studying, but when COVID stuck in March ’20 her daily routine of going to school came to a complete halt due to school closure.
Like other children, she was confined to her home, unable to continue her studies, play with friends or interact with teachers. It was a callous time for her. She was equally disturbed to see the inward migration of people of her community from far-flung areas as they lost their livelihood, and accessing basic necessities became challenging. All this made Arti’s anxiety grow. She was in class 10th and without any books or study material. She had no means to study. Her family being economically vulnerable could not provide her with the means for ICT enabled learning. Gradually she began drifting away from education and got engaged in household chores. She lived in fear that she would have to drop out of school eventually. While fully understanding her daughter’s situation, her mother expressed her helplessness as the family had to prioritize food over education. She said, “Our family is big, managing two square meals is a challenge then how can we afford a smartphone”.
During this time, Save the Children in collaboration with UNICEF launched the “Keeping Learning Alive” project with the objective to support children like Arti in their learning continuity during the crisis. Save the Children’s field team approached children of Sakhi Village to form a Children’s Group. They also informed the children about the resource centre, its features and how it supports children in continuing their learning in the absence of access to any digital platform.
Arti became curious and excited when she came to know that the resource centre will have books to read, creative art sessions and life skills training for all adolescents. She joined the group and started attending classes in the resource centre. Through the resource centre, she came to know about UNNAYAN programme by the government on Doordarshan. This programme enabled her to continue her studies. She attended these classes at her neighbour’s house.
Arti also participates in the storytelling sessions held under the project in her village. She enjoys playing outdoor games organized at the resource centre. She is currently regular with her assignments and is catching up with her studies, which she was unable to do in the last eight months. Arti aspires to become a school teacher one day. Arti is thankful to the programme team for providing her information about the UNNAYAN program. She is very positive and hopeful that she will be able to continue her studies.*Name and image of the child have been changed to ensure the safety.
Komal, the 16-year-old who Raising her Voice
for the VoicelessKomal is a 16-year-old little girl who lives with her parents and two brothers, in Kamla Nehru slum, one of the biggest slums of Patna where around 1600 families live. The family’s financial status is not so good as her father works as a street vendor and earns very less money selling utensils in exchange of torn and old clothes.
Komal became a member of our children’s group and participated in several activities organized by Save the Children. This helped her learn different things that, in turn, helped her develop communication skill and leadership qualities. Though she had to contribute towards household chores and help her father in his business, still she managed to participate in various community mobilization activities. Her commitment encouraged many others. She has actively led the formation of other children groups in her neighbourhood where she talks about her idea to eradicate social evils like child marriage, child Labour and eve-teasing and talks about development of children.
Komal is aware of the negative impact of violence against children and other social evils at such a tender age. Along with her children group members, she conducts awareness drives against Child Marriage, Child Labour and tries to persuade their family to let children go to school for good education and proper development of society. She raises voice to take sensitive and serious steps to eliminate gender discrimination and demands regarding basic facilities in their schools at various forums.
Komal is now leading a new group called “MISTI”. Through this, she makes efforts to make children realize their rights of education and take sensitive steps to fight gender discrimination. All members of her group are enrolled in school. She has also sensitized group members about childline number. Her communication skill has improved significantly with time, and now she shares her views confidently across different platforms. Children of Komal’s slum are influenced by her and have joined her to make her efforts successful. Along with her campaigning efforts, she carries a high level of commitment to pursue her studies. She dreams of becoming a teacher to share knowledge, positive thoughts and good message among young marginalized children like hers.*Name and image of the child have been changed to ensure the safety.
Rejected, Stigimized and Voiceless Charan finds his Voice for Child Rights
“Is it a curse to be born in a Waste Picking family? Why did I become a victim of eve-teasing and face rejection from my classmates?” Charan frequently asked this question to his mother. Charan’s parents were engaged in garbage collection in Bengaluru City because of this. His classmates use to isolate him to the extent that he was on the verge of dropping out of school.
14-years-old Charan lives in Timberyard slum in a small 8 feet by 8 feet house, the metallic sheet roofing of this house leaks every rainy season. There are 5 members in his family, his parents, one elder sister Dharshini (15) and one younger sister Janani (13). The parents work really hard as Waste Pickers, and every day they get up early in the morning to stand in a long queue for using one common toilet in their locality. 80 other families use this one toilet. On most days the toilet remains dirty and stinky as most of the residents live on rent and so no one takes the responsibility of maintaining the toilet and keeping it clean. Charan’s parents leave for waste picking 6 am, and by the time they get home, they are totally exhausted and tired. On average, the family earns Rs 15000 to 20000 per month. Charan’s ender sister takes care of the household chores and looks after the younger daughter. Looking at his parent’s daily struggle, Charan made a point to change his life and educate himself. He thought school would the safest place for him to learn and make friends, but sadly this was not the case for him. As his parents are waste pickers, he made no friends at school.
Almost a year ago, Save the Children and its partner NGO BOSCO reached out to Charan’s community as part of a special project on addressing the learning needs of children from Waste Picking families and neighbouring communities in slums and streets of Bengaluru. Charan expressed his struggle with one of our field team members. Save the Children-team had a detailed conversation with Charan to understand his challenges and the potentials. Charan is very good at art, Drama and Dance. Our team encouraged him to participate, and he too started showing interest in participating more in extracurricular activities. Seeing his talent, other children started coming close to him. Charan demonstrated his talents and also helped other children who were keen to learn dance and art. The same classmates who earlier teased him now came closer to him because of his humbleness. Our team’s encouragement and right direction have helped Charan become a happy and confident teenage. During the Covid-19 outbreak, Charan helped Save the Children’s team identify the most marginalized families and distribute dry ration.*Name and image of the child have been changed to ensure the safety.
All Set to Reach out to 200 Children in His Slum Pocket: Aman’s Story
All of 15 years old, Aman Bharati from a slum pocket of Lucknow is supporting his family’s income by working as a newspaper delivery boy. He was out of school for long and had made peace with his fate until he met a group of children living in his slum, Kanshi Ram Colony situated in Para Lucknow. These children were long associated with Save the Children’s campaign for bringing down incidences of pneumonia in this area by making use of creative means like “nukkad nataks” or street plays. Aman became part of this drama workshops, and it completely changed his life and made him realize his life can be so much better than what he was living currently, and also the fact that he has the ability to bring about positive changes in the lives of children living in his slum.
He quickly rose to become the leader of the children and youth’s group. People in his slum fondly called him by the name “pneumonia” – the character he played in the nukkad natak while campaigning for rising awareness about pneumonia. It’s a name that stuck with him along with his resolve to raise his voice for child rights. Talking about it Aman said, “I used to be afraid of everything just because my family was struggling to make ends meet. I was afraid that I would never get out of these hardships I was living with and realize my dream to be an actor. But Save the Children helped in building my confidence and gave me a chance to express myself. I met politicians like Rita Bahuguna Joshi, Member of Lok Sabha and Smriti Irani, Minister in the Union Cabinet. I realised I could also do something important and meaningful in my life.”
Today, Aman owing to his hard work and zeal to raise and highlight issues of children living in the street situation across India has been chosen to implement Save the Children’s Dream Accelerator project. Under this project, we identify and grooms children to become leaders of tomorrow. While Aman plans to become a successful actor one day, he also hopes to reach over 200 children in his slum and change their lives for the better.
He says, “A good education and a healthy lifestyle is the only way to make something of our lives, and that is what I plan to create awareness about through the Dream Accelerator’s Project.”*Name and image of the child have been changed to ensure the safety.
Breaking Gender Inequality and Showcasing Community Leadership: Nazmin’s Story20-year-old Nazmin Khatoon resides in Tiljala area in Park Circus Kolkata with her mother and one younger sister. Like many other females in her community, her mother engages in domestic worker in nearby localities and earns INR.4000/- per month. Though Nazmin’s mother did not get the opportunity to continue her education, she always encouraged her daughters to continue their studies. With the support of local governing bodies (ward councillor), both of her daughters were enrolled in Government-sponsored school. Unfortunately, Nazmin could not continue her studies after class 8th due to financial constraints. Nazmin’s younger sister currently studies in class 6.Nazmin life has been hard since childhood; she has faced a lot, and all this made her more sensible and mature at a young age. To overcome the financial condition at home, Nazmin and her mother both started working as domestic help. She said, “If my mother had any skill, then she could have lead a respected life. I did not want to live my life like my mother.”
With the determination to do something in life, Nazmin got in touch with Save the Children’s team and underwent 4-day life skill training session. She said, “These 4 days were the golden moments of my life which helped me to realize about my potential and also set my life’s goal.”.
Nazmin applied her knowledge of gender equality acquired during the capacity building process and sensitized the girls in her own community. She played a crucial role as a peer motivator whenever any female of her community faced any difficulty like early marriage, violence at home, etc. She then went on to become self-independent by working in a beauty parlour, to earn a living for her family. As Beauty & wellness industry was shut down suddenly due lockdown in the pandemic, she lost her job and once again faced severe hardship. After the government imposed unlock II and movement of individuals became possible, Nazmin started freelancing as a beautician and started earning INR.3500/- per month.
“My life has just started to get better. I hope to grow and do well in this Beauty Industry.” Nazmin wants to become a makeup artist in future and open her own parlour.*Name and image of the child have been changed to ensure the safety.
Through our Dream Accelerator Project Khushi is All set to Get Back to SchoolGirl education is something that every developing nation needs to ensure and root for. In recent years, a lot of progress has been witnessed in this front both by the government and society collectively. Despite this, so many girls who are determined to achieve something in their lives have to give up their education midway.Khushi Khashyap was in 9th class when her family made her leave school due to financial difficulties. Living in a slum pocket in Lucknow, Khushi’s only wish is to complete her education and become a teacher someday.
The Government of Uttar Pradesh has many schemes and policies for ensuring that girls receive education. Despite this a lot of families make their daughters leave education mid-way. A lot of factors are responsible for this; a major reason is ignorance and lack of awareness about these policies and the second contributing factor is the orthodox mindset that considers girl education useless. Other than these, a lot of families are also going through financial difficulties due to loss of livelihood in this ongoing pandemic. Khushi’s family also had no money to support her education so they made her leave school.
Talking about her experience, Khushi said, “I left school in the starting of this year when I just started my class 9th, my friends’ study at home or online but all I do is household work. The COVID crisis has changed a lot of things, schools have closed, and children remain home, they study and play indoors, I can’t do both as I have loads of household chores to finish. But I dream of the day when I will be able to go back to school and start my education again.”
That day might be sooner than ever for Khushi as she has been selected by Save the Children under our Dream Accelerator project. In this project, we help out children who are capable of doing a lot in their life but are unable to do so because of some constraints. Khushi will soon be getting a stipend that will help her continue her education. For this, she had to compete with many children but her will to study and go back to school was so strong that it helped her get selected. She wants to become a teacher and help other children in her community.*Name and image of the child have been changed to ensure the safety.
Education has Opened the Door of Opportunities in My
Life: JhansiI never knew education is my right until didi from Save the Children told me. I use to think that education was meant only for the children whose parents could afford it. I never knew about the Right to Education Act, which ensures free and compulsory education for the children between 6-14 years across India. I started questioning my parents when I got to know about it. I started demanding my rights. Knowing about our rights is the first step towards changing our lives for many ignorant children like me. My life has changed from the day I realised that Education is my Right. I am now a Child Rights Advocate for other children in my community”, said 10-year-old Jhansi.Determined Jhansi comes from a very humble background. Her parents work in a small chilli farm in her village Gangavaram in Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh. They can’t afford to hire outside labour for plucking chillies, so on most days Jhansi would accompany her parents and help in chilli plucking. The working condition is terrible as due to the strong fume from the chillies everyone ends up with continuous tears in eyes and bad skin rashes. Image the plight of this 10-year-old in such condition.
Jhansi was all of 7 when the team member from Save the Children found her working in their chilli farm. The team got engaged in a conversation with Jhansi’s parents, followed by an exclusive interaction with Jhansi to understand what she feels about working in a chilli farm. Our team found out that like any child her age, she wanted to go to school, she wanted to play and enjoy herself. She was clueless about her rights as a child and so didn’t know how to excise her rights. Save the Children reached out to, many children like Jhansi, and explained to them about the rights of a child. Not only this our team also spend several days with the parents explaining them about the importance of education. We took the support of the local leaders in convincing parents to send their children back to school.
Almost after a month from our intervention, Jhansi was enrolled in school. Since then, there has been no looking back for her. She is a very bright student and not only academics, she also engages in many extra-curricular activities. She went on to become a member of Save the Children’s Children Group. With her pro-activeness, she earned the leadership role in her Group.
Save the Children strongly believes in creating multiple platforms and spaces, which help children to voice out their concern and issues. Child Group is one such mechanism, which is formed by the children, for the children and with the children. When children take centre stage, they lead the change by setting multiple examples for other children. Jhansi became an example for many children.
Due to COVID-19 lockdown, access to education got disrupted not just for her but for every child in her community. Most of the children are in confusion due to closure of schools, restricted mobility and fear of being infected with the virus. In the said circumstance, Jhansi came forward, like a champion, she took all the necessary precautionary measures and generated awareness among her next-door community members. She went on to call her friends and peers to generate awareness about Covid-19 prevention. The entire tele-calling was supported by Save the Children. Peer support is one of the effective measures that helps in reducing stress among other children. Post-relaxation of the lockdown, Jhansi went on to visit children at their homes to created awareness on handwashing and hygiene practices. She learnt all this through capacity building program of child champions that was done through tele-calling by Save the Children’s project staff.*Name and image of the child have been changed to ensure the safety.
Once a Child Labourer, Mamata is a Beacon of Hope for Her Community During the Pandemic: Mamata’s StoryMamata Sardar is 17 years old, and like any other teenager her age, she studies in class 12. But this has not been the case with her as she was a victim of child labour. Living in North 24 Parganas district of West Bengal, India she lives with her parents and two siblings.People in Mamata’s village mostly depend on agriculture, or they end up migrating to cities or other states of India in search of a living. Mamata’s family too had an extremely humble background, to support her family’s income, she migrated to Kolkata and there worked as a child labour in someone’s home. She was abused both physical and mental by her employer. At such a young age, she had to deal with so much abuse. After being rescued from that gruesome situation, Mamata returned to her village where she became a regular at Save the Children’s Children’s meetings and trainings, she was nurtured by our team through various capacity building programmes. She was re-enrolled in school with the help of our field staff and became a regular at school. She developed great liking in spending time with her peers, stitching and doing gardening at home in her kitchen garden.
In March, 2020, when the Covid-19 pandemic started in India, people in Mamata’s village very confused and clueless about the virus. It was then that Save the Children’s youth champions like Mamata stepped in and helped people understand all about the virus. These youth champions were aware of the virus from the information they had gathered from the representatives of Save the Children in the last children’s meeting held in February 2020.
Mamata and other explained everyone how they need to maintain social distancing of at least 1 foot, how one should not hug or shake hands with others, washing hands as frequently as possible with soap or hand sanitizers and finally most essential thing wearing a mask in public.
As the country went into lockdown, Mamata’s father and elder brother lost their jobs and with no income in the family Mamata feared that the joblessness of the bread-earners might also push her to join the workforce to earn a living for her family without even completing her studies. Adding to her worries was the closure of her school and the lack of internet facilities at home for most of the children in her school. Because of this, her school was unable to start the regular on-line classes like the fortunate children of urban areas. With no schools, there is a fear of children getting engaged in child labour or even getting trafficked. As a member of the Village Child Protection Committee, so far Mamata has prevented 13 children from getting trafficked and stopped 3 children from getting engaged as child labour in her village. She also sought help from Save the Children’s team for food rations for her family and other families in her village, later they also got help from the local government.*Name and image of the child have been changed to ensure the safety.
Understanding the Ill-effects of Child
Marriage: Lalita’s Story
Lalita Kumari, a 16-year-old from Mohanpur block in Gaya, Bihar has a lot of aspirations. A native of Pakariya (Lakhaipur) village where getting access to services like education and knowledge on sexual and reproductive health is not easy. Her father, Arjun Yadav works as a mason in the village and her mother, Setabia Devi, is a homemaker. They find it hard to provide for the needs of their children.
Growing up in a remote village and an orthodox family, she was made to leave her studies after 8th class and was told to do household work with her mother. She was not able to understand the outcome of all this; neither she received any support from any external agency.
In May 2016, when she was just 12 years of age, Lalita became a victim of child marriage. She was too young to understand the meaning of marriage and was unable to understand why things changed for her post-marriage. She was told that she will soon leave her parents’ home after her “gaauna”, and so her relatives started explaining to her that now that she is married, she needs to live her life the way the groom’s family wants. They use to instruct her about the type of clothes she should wear, the household work she should know and the worst she was not allowed to go outside to play with her friends. Most of the time, she ended up doing household work the whole day as her mother insisted that these skills will only help her at her in-law’s home.
In September 2016, Save the Children along with a local NGO, Samagra Seva Kendra (SSK) started an intervention on child marriage with our project ‘Marriage No Child’s Play’. All the adolescent girls from her village were selected and included in the adolescent group. Lalita also becomes a part of this group called “Gulshan” (10-14 yrs.). It took a lot of effort for making Lalita’s parents understand the importance of letting their daughter be a part of the said group.
Once Lalita joined, the project staffs observed that she showed keen interest in group meetings and related activities. She always attended all the activities and meetings. She took training on sexual and reproductive health, Lalita babu, Financial Literacy, etc. She also started realizing that she has been a victim of child marriage and how it could be a curse for her life. She came to know about the importance and usage of different birth-control measures and decided not to go to her in-law’s house unless she turns 21 years of age. She also explained to her parents about the ill effects of child marriage, and with time her parents also started realizing that daughters are not labilities and started giving importance to her opinion.
Lalita now mobilizes other adolescents in her village and participates in community-based event like rally, Adolescent Health Day, Cycle rally, and street plays. She speaks up on adolescent issues at various platforms at village, panchayat and block level.
During the ongoing pandemic COVID-19, she is playing a vital role in spreading awareness among the other girls and community members about the importance of safety measures like usage of masks, proper and regular handwash, maintaining social distancing and of course how to maintain dignity during lockdown by using a cloth made sanitary pads when all shops and health centres ran out of sanitary napkins. When her father, who is a mason, lost his job and there was an acute food crisis in the family, she had reached out to the Block Development Officer, with support from Save the Children and requested for continuity of Public Distribution System (PDS) to support the poorest of poor.*Name and image of the child have been changed to ensure the safety.
REACHING OUT TO FAMILIES STRUGGLING TO MAKE ENDS MEET: Ramshi’s Story
“I don’t remember when was the last time my family enjoyed three nutritious meals in a day. There has never been a single day without worrying about what food I will feed my child for their next meal. Most of the days, leftover rice from dinner is what we relished as breakfast. We skip afternoon lunch, so I cook one meal a day that serves us both for dinner and breakfast. As a mother, it hurt me every day for not being able to provide a nutritious meal to my child. Covid-19 is certainly a huge crisis in everyone’s life. Even before the pandemic, my family has been living in multiple vulnerable situations like food insecurity, lack of livelihood opportunities and natural calamities. We have survived all these years. Adversity made us more resilient.” said 35-years-old Mageshwari, Ramshi’s mother.
Since childhood, Ramshi’s father, Vedharethinam (40) had an issue with his vision. He lost sight in his left eye at the age of 24. With limited vision, he use to sell dry chilli on his bicycle. At the age of 28, Ramshi’ father lost eyesight in his second eye. He was unable to do any work. In the year 2019, he got an ID card from the Department of Differently Abled and started receiving the benefit of Rs.1000 every 2 months. Ramshi’s mother had to step in and earn for the family. She started working under the 100-day of employment programme, but due to COVID-19 lockdown, the panchayat stopped the work. Ramshi’s family was left with no income at all. Ramshi’s mother was saving Rs 50 per month for her son’s future education. She had no choice but to exhaust all her savings in managing a one-time meal for the family.
Help from the Village level Monitoring Committee was a ray of hope for Ramshi’s mother. The Disaster Management Committee formed under the project Income Generation Programme for victims of Gaja cyclone across 10 villages of Keelaiyur Block in Nagapattinam District of Tamil Nadu is supported by Save the Children. In January 2020, Save the Children collaborated with Herbalife Nutrition Foundation and CAF India to support the Income Generation Programme (IGP) for victims of the Gaja cyclone.
With help from the group, Ramshi’s mother was able to provide a nutritious meal to her child after months. Getting the help filled their life with hope, courage and resilience. Save the Children’s team also supported the family with mango and coconut saplings to help them in the long-run. The Village level Monitoring Committee is monitoring the family and trying to find livelihood option for them.
“My son, Ramshi, is in grade 2, studying in the nearest government school. However, his education was completely disrupted due to the pandemic. Ramshi is hopeful, and he wants to become a police officer. I will work hard and help him realise his dreams and aspirations. Sincere gratitude to Save the Children for their timely support that helped us through difficult times.”, said Ramshi’s mother Mageshwari.
There are many children like Ramshi starving for one nutritious meal a day. We are observing UNCRC week from 14th to 20th November and encouraging people to support our cause.*Name and image of the child have been changed to ensure the safety.
Aditi’s Story: Making a difference in the world, one step at a time
Aditi’s Story: Making difference in the world, one step at a time.
Meet Aditi*, a sixteen-year-old from Mominpura, Govandi. She lives with her grandmother, labourer parents and her two siblings. Stepping out of the house to interact with her community was never allowed. And this is not just Aditi’s story, but the story of many young girls living in Shivaji Nagar, Nagpur.
While working in the community, Save the Children’s social worker met her. Gradually, Aditi began to develop interest in the work that Save the Children was undertaking in the community & understood the long lasting impact it could have on her community. It took a lot of efforts and much counselling to let Aditi’s family allow her to take part in the project.
And eventually, she showcased good leadership skills and it wasn’t too long, before she became the adolescent leader in the program. Seeing their daughter grow in such circumstances was almost like turning a new leaf.
Aditi said, “It gives me immense pleasure when I see the difference in those children who need regular growth monitoring”.
It hasn’t been easy for her, but with one step at a time, she has made sure that her acts do make a difference in the world she lives in.*Name and image of the child have been changed to ensure the safety.
Meet Neekita*, singing the rhythm of change
Neekita, a resident of the Motilal Nehru Camp, an urban slum in New Delhi, lives with her family. The slum is a home to around 15000 people who come from almost 3500 households. Issues like Open Defecation, lack of dustbins and improper drainage systems were the most rampant problems the slum faced and there was an alarming need to maintain personal and community hygiene.
Neekita wanted to take some action, but didn’t know where to start from. Even before she could work towards making things better for the community outside the four walls of her house, she decided to change things on the inside.
She attended Save the Children’s adolescent training sessions and motivated the people around her to change their attitude about waste disposal, hand-washing habits and the need to use toilets.
Neekita then began to use her talent in singing to spread the message of sanitation. Her efforts yielded results & there was a spike in number of people pursuing proper sanitation practices.
Neekita’s story is a reminder of the need to “be the change you want to see in the world”.*Name and image of the child have been changed to ensure the safety.
On the road to empowerment: Story of Naina
Meet Naina*. At the tender age of 16, her family pressurised her into getting married with an already married man and a father to a child.
Not even a month into the marriage, she experienced physical and mental abuse by her alcoholic husband. And a few months later, she got pregnant. With no medication and extreme negligence by her husband and in-laws resulted in severe health issues. Naina was then sent to her mother’s home for the birth of her child and since then, her husband has remained uncontactable. With no source of income, she was at her parents’ expense and was blamed by neighbours and relatives for her fate.
The project ‘Samudaya Abhivruddhi’ was initiated by Save the Children in Bharthi’s village in Karnataka, including 19 other villages in the state. Naina was one of the beneficiaries who received support from Save the Children to set a shop in her village.
From being dependant, she became economically independent.
“We have so much power within us. But still there are many women who are unaware of it and are suffering in silence. I was one such woman. At one point in time, I wanted to finish my life. But, today, I am an entrepreneur, earning my living and educating my child,” says 30-year-old Naina.*Name and image of the child have been changed to ensure the safety.
The Unwavering Determination of Surbhi
Meet Surbhi*, who comes from the Mahadalit community, one of the most marginalised communities in the country. Patriarchy is rampant and women in the community are confined to their households, with no choice of working outside.
Surbhi lives in her village with her parents and three siblings – a sister and two brothers. Her father works as a daily wage labourer and like the rest of the women in the village, her mother is a home-maker.
In the community that Surbhi comes from, early and forced child marriage is a common practise. No girl in the community has ever undergone skill training or is doing paid work.
With the ‘SashaktKishori’ project being implemented by Save the Children and imparting life skill education, Surbhi was able to understand her future course of action and decided to acquire the skill of her choice, aiming to be financially independent in the long run.
Her story is one of the many examples of determination conquering every barrier.*Name and image of the child have been changed to ensure the safety.
Story of Rohan’s Persistence to change his life
Rohan* used to live in Metiaburj, located in the South western part of Kolkata, along with his parents and older brother.
With an insufficient income, Rohan along with his mother and sibling found a safe haven in their maternal uncle’s home. Rohan and his brother had to work in a slipper factory and started to support their mother by providing Rs.50/- while still pursuing their primary education.
With every passing day, things got worse and their mother contracted a bone disease along with a worsening heart condition. Rohan and his sibling were forced to quit school and to continue working full time in the factory. Seeing the mounting hospital bills at home, Rohan’s sibling gave up all responsibilities and ran away from home, leaving young Rohan in-charge of their mother’s ill health and the diminishing finances at home.
Things at the factory weren’t good either. With a history of physical abuse by the owner and a meagre salary, Rohan was distressed and angry. He set out to look for a respectful work environment and a decent earning.
Through Save the Children’s intervention in the New Horizons project, Rohan was trained in both, technical as well as in soft skills. On mapping his interest with the team, he was encouraged to join the Facility Management course that would help him develop some technical skills and gain employment.
After completion of his technical training, he started On Job training at a nearby restaurant, which guaranteed him a steady income.
“Life skills session enabled me to identify my strengths and area of improvements. After attending the first day of my life skill class, I cried for hours thinking that I wasted many years. If I had identified it earlier, it might have lead me towards my golden days sooner,” said Rohan.*Name and image of the child have been changed to ensure the safety.
Meet Anjali: Making her way to the world of learning
Anjali* was mere few months old when her mother passed away and she was abandoned by her father and older siblings. Seeing the turmoil this young baby was going through, Anjali’s aunt decided to adopt her.
When she reached the school going age, they decided to enrol her in a local school. Unfortunately, due to the lack of proper documentation and the absence of her biological parents, schooling remained a distant dream for her.
Save the Children’s Mobile Learning Center (MLC) that aims at taking education and child protection to the doorstep of such kids, identified that she was an “Out-of-School” child. The “Blue Bus” became her first step to education. Within a month of training, she was able to recognise letters and numbers with ease.
Our MLC educators also supported her with school enrolment. Through countless follow-ups and advocacy, Anjali was finally enrolled in the 2 nd standard.
Anjali realised that when life locks one door, it opens another. Sooner or later, it always does.*Name and image of the child have been changed to ensure the safety.
Priya’s Curiosity driving her back to School and learning
Meet Priya*. She is the younger of the two siblings. Her parents are agricultural labourers. While they own two acres of land, they also work at farms owned by others.
On the weekdays she goes to her school, but on the weekends she works at the chilli farms. She does so, to supplement the income of her parents who work there as well. According to her and something that is being instilled by her parents, “If only she works, they will have enough to eat.”
Before the initiation of Save the Children and Santa Maria supported programme in selected villages in Guntur, Priya used to work in chilli fields and cotton farms alternately. Her figures in the attendance register at school were pitiful as earning money was a priority clearly set by the family members.
However, with the enrolment drives, one-to-one counselling sessions and community awareness drives as part of the initiative, children like Priya are coming back to the schools.*Name and image of the child have been changed to ensure the safety
Knowing Nutrition: A story of Sakshi and her mother
Three-year-old Sakshi* lives in a small room in Sai Baba Nagar with her parents and her younger sister. At first glance, she looks feeble and very short for her age.
Her parents struggle with living a life with financial instability and the inability to even provide two meals a day. Sakshi’s father is a daily-wage labourer and works as a waste segregator with a mere income of Rs. 100 per day. Her mother is a housewife.
Poor nutrition, hygiene and financial instability made Sakshi susceptible to illnesses. Her mother reached out to Save the Children’s health worker. Soon, it was found that Sakshi fell in the Severely Acute Malnourished category.
She was then asked to attend Save the Children’s Supplementary Feeding Programme (SFP) in which she learnt about the importance of a nutritious diet and some nutritious recipes. Within six months, Sakshi reached a healthy weight range.
Now Sakshi’s mother not only understands importance of nutrition herself, but actively counsels other women in her community about the importance of breastfeeding and nutritious food.*Name and image of the child have been changed to ensure the safety.
Bringing the light of literacy: Story of Varsha
Meet Varsha. She is 15-years-old, from a local village school in the city of Patna. She lives with her parents and 5 siblings in an urban slum, which is one of the most “at-risk” for disaster areas.
Education was a distant dream for Varsha and her siblings, since just the basic survival was hard. Through Save the Children’s intervention in her area, she began coming to the Children’s Group. As a part of the group, Varsha was taught about disaster preparedness along with other basic education that was provided to them. She took active interest in the lessons and wanted to make a difference in her community.
So, she began special classes where she provided basic education to illiterate women so that they can read and write. Initially met with resistance, she now has 20 women enrolled in her classes and teaches them diligently.
And for each one of them, she’s their guiding light.*Name and image of the child have been changed to ensure the safety.
From being lost to being the light: Story of Deepa
Meet Deepa*, from Kondh Tribal community in the district of Kandhamal. Born to parents who are daily wage workers, their primary form of sustenance is the agriculture. Financial instability and the perpetual lack of funds was an accepted way of life for her. So much so, that she was compelled to drop out of school. Her resolve to pursue her education led her to continue studying from an Open School.
Having personally faced numerous problems in terms of child marriage and Sexual Reproductive Health, she was determined to make life for her peers in the village easier. Through Save the Children’s intervention in her community, she was inspired to work towards achieving her goal in an organized manner. Over the past 2 years, she has been successful in stopping 12 child marriages.
She is now the President of the Block Level Girls Federation in her district, where she actively represents 2000 adolescents and fights for Child Rights and Protection. She is passionate, focussed and determined to end child marriage, gender violence and address the issues of girl’s education in her community.*Name and image of the child have been changed to ensure the safety.
The Never Giving Up story of Alka
Meet Alka.. The death of her father at a young age and the inability of her mother to earn her daily wage owing to the patriarchal set up of her hometown, compelled them to move from their village in Haryana to Kolkata. Unable to sustain a living in the big city, Alka’s mother and her two other siblings, went back to their village.
She began living in a girl’s hostel where she got the opportunity to study till class IX. However, having no place to call “home”, Alka was relegated to live with her relatives. The obligation of living with relatives was too much for her to handle, and she decided to become self-sufficient and earn a living for herself.
The wait for a job seemed endless and Alka began to lose hope. Through Save the Children’s intervention, Alka was able to enrol herself in the Life Skills programme. But unfortunately, she fell ill with malaria and was unable to complete the programme.
After overcoming the hurdles of life she managed to start her technical classes on Facility Management and started working in a nearby restaurant.
Even though it’s hard, she’s never stopping herself from trying more.*Name and image of the child have been changed to ensure the safety.
Unlocking the doors of education: Garima’s Story
Meet the 6-year-old Garima. She has never seen her father since the day she was born, because he was busy working out of state to provide for the family. Her mother is differently-abled and can’t do much in providing for the family.
Being left by her husband to survive with 3 growing kids, her mother found no support from her family. She resorted to begging in order to meet the daily needs of her kids.
In December 2019, through Save the Children’s project, an enrolment drive was initiated. Garima and her siblings were enrolled in the school and is now mixing with other children of her age, regularly having mid-day meal in school. Garima’s mother is a little bit relieved after this enrolment, because she believes that education will open new doors for her.*Name and image of the child have been changed to ensure the safety.
Nandini: Fighting for Change with the weapon of education
Meet Nandini, a 13-year-old, oldest of five siblings. She lived in a dilapidated house in the village of Burmu Ranchi. However, her life was not the life an ordinary teenager.
Her father suffered from a mental illness and died shortly before her sixth birthday. Her mother abandoned them when they were very young. To add to the misery, the financial instability made their lives harder. School and formal education were completely out of question.
Once she reached her maternal uncle’s home, they decided to enrol her in the local school. They were convinced that if Nandini wanted to change her life, education was imperative. Having been an “out-of-school” child for all these years, her classes seemed difficult and academic performance dwindled.
Through Save the Children’s initiative in her village, all academically weak children were provided extra classes to help them cope.
There has been a significant improvement in Nandini’s academic performance and this has boosted her confidence in unimaginable ways.
Nandini says, “You can get anything you want if you are educated.”*Name and image of the child have been changed to ensure the safety.
Breaking the Bar of Age: Meet Nisha
Meet Nisha, a ten-year-old, youngest amongst her siblings, lives with her parents in Bhanwar Singh Camp, a slum in the urban city of New Delhi.
Due to family neglect, she developed a lot of bad habits when it came to personal hygiene. With only one community toilet set up, Nisha preferred defecating in the open than going all the way there. These bad hygiene practices lead to her falling ill more often than usual. Her attendance in school began to decline. With both her parents working to make ends meet, there was no one to take care of her at home.
It was during this time that Save the Children initiated the WASH project in the slum. At one of the sessions Nisha came in contact with the project staff who oriented and trained her on the need to practice good personal hygiene.
Now regular to school, her teachers have witnessed marked improvement in her performance. Not only is she is using her newly acquired knowledge to change perceptions within her community, she is also doing it in school.
Nisha has indeed lived up to the “age-no-bar” saying.*Name and image of the child have been changed to ensure the safety.
From the rock of responsibilities to the world of childhood, Witness Amit’s Story
Meet Amit*, a young guy from Biswanath District in Assam. His story is that of perseverance and determination. He is the oldest amongst his three other siblings. The seniors of the family did not feel compelled to send him to school for him to pursue his education.
Rather, he was sent off to the city to work as a domestic servant and add to the “family income”.. He was unaware of the new avenues that existed beyond the responsibilities he was carrying on his shoulders. He soon returned to his village, where despite the assurances of education, he was relegated to working at home.
It was only after coming into contact with Children Group and Child Protection Committee initiated by Save the Children in his area and regular consultation with his parents, Amit was enrolled in the local government school. He is now in class two and loves going to school like the rest of his friends and likes to play football and cricket.
With the little acts of change, Amit could find his childhood back and could take off the rock of responsibilities from his shoulders.*Name and image of the child have been changed to ensure the safety.