Bring about lasting change for underprivileged children: CRY

May 30th, 2008 - 10:23 am ICT by admin  

New York, May 29 (IANS) Pointing out that millions of children in India are still denied their basic rights of survival in the midst of the country’s “unprecedented economic success”, the American chapter of CRY (Child Rights and You) has given a call to reverse the situation by engaging underprivileged communities in seeking lasting solutions. CRY America, a non-profit organisation that works to restore basic rights to underprivileged children, especially in India, addressed a press conference here Wednesday to present what they called a proven, lasting change to end the dire situation.

Highlighting the problem, Shefali Sunderlal, president of CRY America, said, “Whereas on one side India is experiencing unprecedented economic success, it is yet to attain the most basic social development indicators for its children. Millions of underprivileged children have their survival threatened on a daily basis due to malnutrition, illiteracy, child labour, preventable diseases, abuse and exploitation.”

Sustainable change is possible only if underprivileged communities are actively engaged in seeking solutions collectively and issues are addressed holistically from a social justice perspective, she said.

Sunderlal cited CRYs’ child rights approach that has witnessed “in thousands of villages, 100 percent of their children are enrolled and retained in schools today, villages are 100 percent child labour free and thousands of communities have access to public health facilities and are together functioning towards the benefit of their children.”

She argued that just handing out food or rescuing children from sweat shops are temporary solutions. “It is essential for communities to address age-old biases such as gender and caste discriminations which are deterrents to lasting change,” she added

Niraj Kumar Mishra, founder of SATHEE (Society for Advancement in Tribes, Health, Education, Environment), presented a first hand account of the success of the child rights-based approach at their grassroots organisation in India, which is supported by CRY America.

One of the Society’s community initiatives is the formation of ‘Bal Sansads’ (children’s parliaments) in villages across Jharkhand. In these forums, children question their situation in the presence of local officials and demand that their basic rights to education, health, sources of livelihood for their parents, and freedom from labour and exploitation be restored, Mishra said..

“Girl children who once were confined to the four walls of the house have now become flagbearers of their communities by having a say in decisions affecting their lives, like saying ‘no’ to child marriage,” he added.

CRY America tries to replicate the success of projects like SATHEE across India and has positively impacted the lives of over 156,000 children in nearly 1,200 villages and slums throughout the country in just five years of its existence. It has been able to do so with the support of over 8,000 donors and 500 volunteers working in CRY America’s chapters in 19 US cities.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Posted in World |