Empowered children have touching stories to tell

Grassroots, April 15, 2013

Marginalised children from three districts in Rajasthan – Bharatpur, Alwar and Chittorgarh – recently narrated in Jaipur their tales of suffering and struggle and gave voice to their dreams, all through the media. The objective was to empower children to claim their rights in the remote villages and to provide them an opportunity to share firsthand their experiences with larger world.

International advocacy group Save the Children has been working in the three districts in association with non governmental organisations – Alwar Mewat Institute of Education and Development, Consumer Unity & Trust Society International, Society for All Round Development and Prayatn – to address the issues of social exclusion with specific focus on children. Over the past four years, the organisations have undertaken initiatives in villages, with the project focused on a ‘stronger voice to excluded children in government and NGO policies and programmes’.

Empowered children from the project area covering Bharatpur, Alwar and Chittorgarh shared the
approaches and strategies adopted for social exclusion issues, including the aspect of child rights.

The children touched on the subjects of child marriage, child labour, gender-based discrimination, biases related to caste, right to education, malnutrition and government schemes for children. They provided a picture of positive change brought about by the establishment of Baal Mandal and Baal Manch in their villages.

Pushkar from Chittorgarh touched everyone when he told the story of his family’s poverty, his father’s addiction to liquor and his mother working as a labourer on agricultural farms. He spoke about his desire to study and narrated the experiences of attending a global conference in New Delhi two years ago when he rubbed shoulders with VVIPs.

There was Satish from Bharatpur, who was able to study in Class 10 thanks to the efforts of Baal Manch. Shaukat from Tijara in Alwar described how he saved the children in his village from the clutches of child labour and connected them with schools.

Meera of Bharatpur explained how she had taken the initiative to stop child marriages in her village.
Madhu from Chittorgarh succeeded in getting a new high school for her village while Mukesh from Bharatpur extended cooperation in upgrading his school and constructing a boundary wall for its building.

Udai Lal from Chittorgarh narrated a moving story of having suffered a heart disease and going through an open heart surgery through the chief minister’s Jeevan Raksha Kosh programme. He added that he wanted to study hard and make a mark in life.

Madhu from Chittorgarh, and Komal and Jai Kishore from Bharatpur, also narrated how the project played a major role in monitoring the progress of government schemes through Bal Adhikar Manch and Baal Panchayats. The manch (platform) has been placing demands before government officers and elected representatives. The children occupying posts in these bodies have also taken up causes of their fellow children.

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