Transform the Lives of Children in Gujarat, India

 
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Balsena Children gathered for Flag hosting
Balsena Children gathered for Flag hosting

Adolescents are not monsters. They are just people trying to learn how to make it among the adults in the world, who are probably not so sure themselves.

-      Virginia Satir

 

India is a young nation. According to India’s demographical profile of 2014, it has the largest population of adolescents in the world being home to 243 million individuals aged 10-19 years. Accordingly the country's adolescents constituted 20 per cent of the world's 1.2 billion adolescents. Most adolescents have concerns about acceptance by their peers. They often face social rejection due to their difficulty in controlling their social and emotional changes. Social issues encountered in childhood can become worse in adolescence, with the intensity of any rejection or bullying increasing during the teenage years. This rejection can negatively affect both academic performance and emotional health—and can be, in fact, much more troubling to them than making poor grades in school.

Shaishav, while working with children for about 20 years now, have understood and have taken up the challenge of this very sensitive issue. We do regular activities for recognising their issues and motivate them to tackle it without compromising social behaviour. On 10th January 2015, around 210 boys from different schools of Bhavnagar participated in Kishor Samelan. Boys were divided in small groups and introduced to different sessions which had covered the subjects like Difference between boys and girls, physical, psychological and emotional changes during adolescence, Gender discrimination and personal safety. Kishori Samelan was on the following day. Around 160 girls form different schools participated in it. Similar activities were done with girls also. However they were introduced to a Self Defence Wenlido introduction training as well. The Kishori Samelan was ended with an inspiring key note address of Ms Parul Dandikar, an editor of ‘Bhumi-putra’ a well-known publication of Gujarat.

Shaishav also organised State level convention with children in the last week of Dec 2014 to celebrate 12th year of founding Balsena. About 45 children from different districts of Gujarat participated in a 3 day residential workshop held at Bhavnagar. Children learned life skills, friendship & self-development through various games and activities. These children have also discussed various historical, social & cultural issues related to their region. This was followed by a 12th Balsena Annual Celebration being held on 28th Feb 2014. About 780 Balsena children from different community and schools participated in a rally which was followed by Balsena Flag Hoisting and a day long workshop with a theme of an airplane. They were taught how to make different type of airplane using paper. They were also shown history on airplane and its occurrence through an exhibition and a 20 minutes film. Children made paper plane from a used papers. They were also given understanding on making best out of waste, environment awareness and block printing.

Tarunsena Leadership Camp was organised on 30th Jan 2015 to 31st Jan 2015. 19 youths participated in this 2 day residential workshop being held at Manar, an outskirts of Bhavnagar under a mentorship of Falgun & Parul Sheth. They introduced to each other through an activity in which they revealed many things about themselves which they never expressed before. They were introduced to few games through which they learned how to solve problems by supporting each other, understand and respect other’s opinion, helping improve each other, viewing things with different angle, understand leadership quality, teamwork, decision making, determination, integrity and determination. It was followed by Tarunsena Annual Celebration on 1st Feb 2015, where 35 youths participated by discussing their past activities, future plan of action on programs of Tarunsena.

A leadership camps for active Balsena children were organised in which they were given detail and wider understating of child rights through different activity and games.

UNICEF has been working in two districts of Gujarat by developing partnership with the local organization of these districts on the issues of Child Protection, education and Child Participation. UNICEF has appointed Shaishav as their training partner. The training of phase IV with five UNICEF partner organizations was conducted at district level to implement the project effectively. This training was conducted near Baroda during 2 to 4March 2015. Total 51 members participated in this training.

The training included the subjects like effective implementation of project at field level, Self-development; prepare planning of Field level execution, Standard Methodology to prepare Case Studies and Enhancement of work capacity with various groups and community mobilization. The three days induction training was conducted with the purpose of effective implementation of the project in the field.         

During this period, there were lot of advocacy initiatives took place and Shaishav was also recognised for their activity with children and the work on Child Rights.

  • Governor of Gujarat & UNICEF honoured Shaishav for most innovative work with children in the state.
  • Bhavnagar Old Port Industrial Association also recognized Shaishav and its activities.
  • Save The Children – India, invited Balsena President Ms.Shivani  Gondalia to 3 day program UN Action2015 held at New Delhi where she was privileged to meet & do presentation to Ms.Yoo Soon-taek (Wife of Hon. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon); Dr. Najma A. Heptulla – Cabinet Minister for Minority Affairs; Kaveri Bamsai – Senior Correspondent India Today Group. She was amongst 200 children participated from all over India.
  • Shaishav was invited in a Regional Round Table Conference on the Effective Implementation of Juvenile Justice in Bhopal organized by High Court of Madhya Pradesh, Department of Women and Child Development, Government of Madhya Pradesh & UNICEF

During the period, Shaishav participated in RTE Forum – National Board meeting to plan future strategy, stock taking, public hearing etc. at New Delhi. It also participated in a workshop on critical insights on Budget organized by CBGA (Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability) and National Convention on Union Budget 2015-16 at New Delhi

Thank You

Child Right week celebration Yatra 1
Child Right week celebration Yatra 1

Shaishav, as a Child Rights organisation, is committed to protect all the rights recognised by United Nation Convention on the Rights of Child (UNCRC) declared in 1989. The convention changed the way children are being viewed and treated as human beings with distinct set of rights instead of as passive objects of care and charity. The unprecedented acceptance of the Convention globally clearly shows a serious commitment to protect and spread children’s rights world over. There is much to celebrate as we mark the 25th anniversary of the Convention, from declining infant mortality to rising school enrolment, but this historic milestone must also serve as an urgent reminder that much remains to be done. Too many children still do not enjoy their full rights on par with their peers.

Shaishav has always been committed to celebrate child rights week that falls in November each year. 14th November is a National Children’s Day in India and 20th November is International Child Rights Day. So the organizations working with CRBA celebrate it as a Child Rights Week every year. This year is especially important as this year the whole world is celebrating the 25th years of UNCRC. With initiative of Shaishav, Child Rights Collective – Gujarat (CRC-G) also organized a special state level event. CRC-G is a network of Voluntary Organizations and individuals who are committed to the rights of children. From 12th to 20th Nov 2014, about 75 member team participated in CRC-G's Child Rights Yatra (Expedition) with support of UNICEF Gujarat, in 19 district of Gujarat comprising 3 different routes. On 12th and 13th November, training was given to the participant team members from different organizations of Gujarat. The Yatra began from 14th to 19th November. We reached out to more than 10,000 children and adults directly and many more indirectly from more than 180 organizations and schools. Yatra was concluded on 20th Nov 2014 in Ahmedabad with state level convention, where many leading educationists, journalists, activists & intellectuals were present. The yatra team gathered a very critical data during yatra about Child Friendly communities and Child Friendly schools from children, parents, teachers, community workers, child rights activists etc. We have adapted the Child Friendly toolkit that is designed by Prof. Roger Harts of Children Environment Research Group, City University New York. It gave us the real ground reality in situation of children's rights in the area of education, protection, participation, gender inequality and social status. It was really fulfilling, satisfying & learning experience for all the team members participated in the event. The local organisation's participation and encouragement has given a hope in organising similar events in future as well. Many organisations were highly impressed and invited Team Shaishav to give training on Child Rights to their staff members & community children in their respective area. We are currently compiling the data & outcomes for enable us to publish a learning document in about 2 to 3 months from now.

Shaishav continued its’ partnership with UNICEF Gujarat for extending training on child rights, child protection, education and eradication of child marriages, to their six partner organizations in Gujarat who are working in grassroots with community and children. We are holding workshop on Capacity Building of the team members of these partner organizations in December end at Bhavnagar through our CRTRC (Child Rights Training and Resource Centre) initiative. CRTRC serves to support and strengthen many educational and empowerment training programs that Shaishav has designed and created on Teaching & Learning Materials (TLMs) and to share the same with organisations working in similar fields.

The vision of Shaishav is to create a safe, supportive and responsive society that upholds the protection, rights and dignity of every child in India (as defined by the law). This is to be achieved by establishing effective prevention and early intervention measures, strengthening treatment support services and building partnerships. We do this by engaging with all sectors of society upon whom the wellbeing of children depends, in initiatives that will bring about these changes.                 In our last report, we have mentioned about launch of Child Protection Policy (CPP) on 2nd August 2014 in the Bhavnagar district which is the first district in the state of Gujarat. This policy is designed as outlined by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) under Article 19 and various legal statutes of the prevailing law in India. We are happy that this policy was widely recognised, accepted and signed by Teachers’ Union, Principals’ Union, School Management, various government departments, etc. In the due course of time, we expect this policy may widely spread and accepted across the state.

In association with Dream-A-Dream (an organisation based in Bangaluru), Shaishav held 4 day residential training on Life Skills with Balsena’s council and active members in October end at an outskirts of Bhavnagar. Many workshops, cultural program, group discussions and plays were conducted to enlighten the children on various life skills such as Leadership, Creativity, Effective Communication, Relationship Building and Decision Making. Children actively participated and independently conducted many workshops, activities and instant plays. They also went through the activity of “River of Life” and “Dream Tree”, where they could responsively react and expressed their challenges in life and their aspiration to fulfil their dreams.

Few of our major donors such as Child Reach International (UK), Paul Hamlyn Foundation (UK) and Stitching Charity Fund Rijsholt (The Netherlands) visited Shaishav and reviewed our activities and performance during first half of the year April 2014 to September 2014. The reviews were very exhaustive and satisfying. It highlighted our commitments and suggested guidelines to strengthen our efforts in future.

Thank You

Child Right week celebration rally by children
Child Right week celebration rally by children
Child Right week yatra closing ceremony & seminar
Child Right week yatra closing ceremony & seminar
Life Skill training of Balsena Children
Life Skill training of Balsena Children

Shaishav, in its constant endeavour in imparting knowledge about basic rights of children and make them aware about importance of education, have formally launched their new initiative project called Udan (Flight for life)from 1st July 2014.

The basic idea of initiating Udan is to bring those underprivileged children together who have dropped out of school for either economic, family or social reasons and imparting them a fresh opportunity to restart formal education, along with providing vocational guidance, life skill trainings and identifying entrepreneurial skill. Our community workers have identified 174 eligible children this year who were dropped out and were forced into child labour in various areas of Bhavnagar. From among them, we managed to motivate 52 children who were facilitated by special tuitions, training and were provided books at our Area Resource Centre (ARC), to appear in the forthcoming State Secondary School Board Examinations to be held in March 2015. Shaishav was fortunate to have an active support from local High School Principal Association in the initial period. Teaching staff were organised through advertisement or local network connections. It is our dream to bring these children in to mainstream education and make them become independent, productive and skilled citizens.

Shaishav have recently partnered with UNICEF for giving training on child rights, child protection, education and eradication of child marriages, to their six partner organizations in Gujarat who are working in grassroots with community and children. We held three training programs in August and first week of September through our CRTRC (Child Rights Training and Resource Centre) initiative, in the district of Vadodara and Banaskantha. CRTRC serves to support and strengthen many educational and empowerment training programs that Shaishav has designed and created on Teaching & Learning Materials (TLMs) and to share the same with organisations working in similar fields.

Shaishav runs Balsena which is community based organisation designed to provide collective strengths to children aged 6 to 18 years. It is run, managed and led by children with facilitative support from Shaishav. The basic objective of Balsena is to make children aware about their rights & respect within the community, to encourage their participation for enabling qualities such as confidence, sensitivity, equality, leadership, friendship and solidarity. Balsena has approximately 1300 members constitutes 44 teams from 29 areas and schools. Each team elects their captain, vice-captain and two core group members on the basis of criteria decided by themselves. These children forms the council, there they elect their president and vice president, who represents Balsena’s children voice nationally and internationally. In first week of August 2014, Balsena underwent their 12th such election, where their representative were elected. Shivani became the President. Usually the Vice-President is of the opposite sex but since Asha was at the second place, the children decided to have both Asha and Akash as Vice- Presidents. However, Balsena maintained its long-standing record that the President is a girl. Out of 12 elections, 10 times the girls have become the president. This is a classic example of girls’ empowerment.

Balsena have also developed among themselves, a savings bank scheme, which enables them to save money independently, teaching them financial responsibility. It helps them understand importance of saving money instead of spending it for leisure and other non-productive things. This money is generally a pocket money received by them from parents. They deposit this money in to their savings accounts on a regular basis and withdraw when they requires for paying their school fees or buying books, uniforms, school stationeries etc. In first week of August 2014, Balsena prepared and presented their annual report and audited accounts for its savings account members. The total savings made by the members since inception of this scheme is about INR 8 Lacs and current balance as on date is about INR 1.2 Lacs.

The vision of Shaishav is to create a safe, supportive and responsive society that upholds the protection, rights and dignity of every child in India (as defined by the law). This is to be achieved by establishing effective prevention and early intervention measures, strengthening treatment support services and building partnerships. We do this by engaging with all sectors of society upon whom the wellbeing of children depends, in initiatives that will bring about these changes. Shaishav have launch Child Protection Policy (CPP) on 2nd August 2014 in the Bhavnagar district which is the first district in the state of Gujarat. This policy is designed as outlined by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) under Article 19 and various legal statutes of the prevailing law in India. The launching of the CPP was done in presence of hundreds of teachers and stakeholders in the presence of the UNICEF chief of the state of Gujarat, the District Collector, Former Director of Professors’ Training Institute Dr. Bhadrayu Vaccharajani, representatives of Teachers’ Union, Principals’ Union, School Management, various government departments, etc. In the days to come, we will organize training with the members of Child Protection Committee members.

Thank You


Attachments:
Hello from Balsena children
Hello from Balsena children

Just few steps away from our dream: child - friendly Bhavnagar…

 To ensure that children have safe spaces to develop and that they rights are protected our work reaches beyond children and youth and aims to involve all the strands of society. We already have a strong foundation for linking society and integrating system of community – based protection mechanism in Bhavnagar. Our children and youth collectives, Balsena and Tarunsena, develop important life skills and help children and youth to derive support for each other. We joined community members and formed Lok Samarthan Manch, to work together to solve issues communities face and better the lives of children. We linked professionals working with and for children and organizations in Bhavnagar and formed Baldost Manch (network of friends of children) who works to advocate on behalf of children and communities and pressure government to improve children’s situation. We also trained city volunteers to ‘keep eye’ on children in need of care and protection and established Child Safety Net. Now we want to link all of these mechanism together and establish Balsena’s Safety and Protection module, which ensure that all layers of society are aware of children rights and work well together to ensure the safety and development of children.

To successfully integrate this module we will work to strengthen Balsena and Tarunsena Teams. We will establish Child Protection Committees, which consist of children, youth, community members and professionals working together on child safety and protection issues and will expand Child Safety Net by mobilizing and training people across Bhavnagar City. Once this module is established, it will fulfill our dream: creating safe, protective and child – friendly Bhavnagar. It will then be used for advocacy and child protection at State and National level. We still have miles to go and hope you be walking with us.

Now we want to share some of our successes with you …

Since 1995, aiming to reduce children engaging in labor over summer vacation, Shaishav organizes vacation camp for children to engage in fun development and life skills activities. These camps target “at risk” children, and are followed up by enrolment drives to get children into school. This year, from May 11th to 9th of June about 300 children participated in vacation camp. Children engaged in various educational and leisure activities: outdoors sports, yoga, cooking classes, playing music etc., they went to park and beach and learnt various life skills and children rights. On the last day of the camp, children organized closing ceremony – full of music, dance and laughter! Our enrollment drive contributed to 354 children being admitted to Anganwadi (pre-school care) centers, 300 enrolled to 9th standard and 749 children successful enrollment to school!!!

Education for Girls

Shaishav works relentlessly to enroll and retain children in school and prevent them to join child labor and escape child marriage. In our biggest baseline survey done in 2013 we confirmed our biggest challenges in retaining girls in school beyond elementary years. The baseline survey showed that while 77.15% of girls age 6-14 are in school, only 18% of girls age 15-18 continue their education. A number of issues contribute to the lack of retention beyond 8th standard. Many communities do not have high schools, meaning girls have to travel 3 – 5 kilometers or more to reach school. This not only can be expensive, but also dangerous for girls, especially if school finishes when it is dark. Out of school girls enter ‘invisible child labor’ engaging in domestic labor and working in the informal sector to collect money for their dowry. This deprives girls from economic and social freedoms to determine their lives. We are actively working to motivate these girls and they parents to allow girls to continue education and pass 10th standard. For the girls whom because of social constrain or/and economic responsibilities cannot go to school we offer 10th standard preparation courses and help them to enroll for open examination. We have identified 402 girls in our areas who are ready to take exams. 54 girls appeared for 10th standard exams in the last six months. Education will enable these girls to become more independent and give freedoms we all deserve.

Welcome to ‘Udan’

We are happy to share that on 1st of July we launched our new program ‘Udan’, meaning ‘fly to life’. Youth from underprivileged communities struggle to complete education and secure employment that would enable them to build sustainable livelihoods. Right to Education Act only includes children from 6-14 years of age, meaning the child of 15 years old, will have limited access to education and no government schools to ease the financial burden. According to our baseline survey, 81.95 % of girls and 54.62 % of boys age 15-18 do not continue education. These youth often feel disenfranchised: unable to access support and resources like training and loans, which would allow youth to achieve their potential, building their careers, bettering their lives and improving their communities.The program aims to provide guidance and assistance for children and young people to pass 10th standard exams, offers credible vocational courses as well as life skills and human rights trainings. This holistic triangular approach is unique and will provide a powerful set of skills to enter the workforce. We already have 206 children ready to join this program!!!

 

Sincere thank you from Shaishav’s children, youth and staff for your support!!!

Relaxing with yoga at vacation camp
Relaxing with yoga at vacation camp
Udan programs opening
Udan programs opening
Celebrating
Celebrating 'Udan' program's opening
Child girl labourers visiting Shaishav
Child girl labourers visiting Shaishav

Links:

Anti-child labour march
Anti-child labour march

Child Rights Week

From November 14th-20th, Shaishav celebrated Child Rights Week in Bhavnagar. This culminated in International Children's Day, on November 20th. For Child Rights Week, Shaishav's team-including Balsena members, Tarunsena members, Shaishav's staff and Alicia, an international funder from Child Reach International-marched into 30 slum areas, singing slogans against child labour. 41 street plays were performed about the Right to Education Act (RTE), and 29,000 flyers were distributed, about topics ranging from RTE to Child Line (a national initiative, "first responder" service offered by Shaishav for children in trouble). 2,500 individuals watched and absorbed information from the educational plays. Simultaneously, 36 "Balmelas" were held in different communities, where 1,763 children played games and created art in a safe space. Child Rights Week culminated with a press conference, in which Shaishav presented their baseline data and Child-Friendly Communities work to community members and the press. The District Collector was invited as our "chief guest," and several "Bal Dosts" (friends of children) spoke about their experiences advocating for child rights. As a result of this press conference, Shaishav's message was spread over two state level news channels, all of the local news channels in Bhavnagar as well as three local newspapers.

 

Child Friendly Communities Update

Shaishav finished collecting data for our Child Friendly Communities (CFC) research. Shaishav was selected as a pilot organisation for a new child friendly communities research tool kit being pioneered by CERG – the Child Environments Research Group, part of City University New York. 10 child, 13 youth and 8 adult researchers thoroughly surveyed 27 communities, allowing children and adults in the community to advocate for their own children, identifying the problems that affect the children in that community. Data analysis is finished, and now Shaishav is creating action plans with the children who live in these communities. Some of the key issues identified include: a lack of safe spaces for children to play, no primary health care facilities in the area, no local high schools (resulting in children and youth traveling far distances to attend), a lack of awareness about child rights in the community, and much more. Be on the lookout for updates about our action plans!

 

Dream a Dream Lifeskills Training

Shaishav has formed a new partnership with Dream a Dream, a Bangalore-based NGO who provides life skills training to children and youth. Dream a Dream came to Shaishav for a two day "training of trainers," at which Dream a Dream facilitated leadership and life skills development through games, art activities and drama, with the goal of making Shaishav staff more effective leaders during their jobs. Shaishav is excited to welcome back Dream a Dream for the second round of this training.

 

New Office and Training Center

Shaishav has officially moved to a new office! Thanks to donations from both the Share and Care Foundation, as well as the Asha Vijay Foundation. Shaishav has a significantly larger space. Although we were able to transfer the infrastructure from our old office quite easily, we are now in the process of fundraising to create a new training center! This presently unfurnished area will be used as a child-friendly space for Balsena events, such as leadership camps, as well as internal and external trainings. Look for updates soon on how you can help!

The Shaishav Bus, decorated for Child Rights Week
The Shaishav Bus, decorated for Child Rights Week
Street dramas about the Right to Education Act
Street dramas about the Right to Education Act
Arts and Crafts at Balmela!
Arts and Crafts at Balmela!

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Organization

Project Leader

Parul Sheth

Executive Director
Bhavnagar, Gujarat India

Where is this project located?

Map of Transform the Lives of Children in Gujarat, India