Saath runs Child Friendly Spaces (CFS) classes for providing education and nutrition support to children at construction sites. Here’s story Mohanbhai whose children study at one of the CFS classes.
Mohanbhai comes from Galiyapor village and has been working in Ahmedabad since last 3 years. He does plastering work at the construction sites. He and his wife work at the construction sites and they have 3 children, 2 girls and 1 boy who are living with them at the sites.
Mohanbhai with his family
Mohanbhai’s girls are Divya (9 year old) and Shilpa (10 year old) and his son is Kishan (8 year old). They are in contact with the Child Friendly Spaces classes run by Saath at the construction sites since past 3 years where first his children used to attend the classes run at Naroda sites and now are attending the classes run in Vasna sites. He is very happy seeing the change in his children and says that before they didn’t know anything, but now are learning very fast and are able to write words in English and Gujarati and his girls especially are very good in reading. He regularly sends his children for the classes and his wife is very happy about the nutrition support provided to their children at the classes. After coming in touch with the classes he has enrolled his children in the school of their village and whenever they go back to village the children study there.
Mohanbhai’s children studying at the CFS class
“My children are getting good education here, and I wish that at all the sites these kind of classes should be run for our children. Saath should continue to work for the education of children at the construction sites as many parents here are not capable enough to send their children to school”, says Mohanbhai.
MEGHDHANUSH! What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear this word? Obviously, the thing that comes to each of our mind is a rainbow. Meghdhanush is the name of the new campaign initiated by SAATH with an aim at raising awareness among people on the issue of Child Labour. I am sure that the question that would now be concerning you is why is the name of the campaign Meghdhanush and how is it connected to the issue of Child Labour? Meghdhanush is a campaign which will have a series of seven workshops for the kids in the course of the year with each event connected to a colour of the rainbow and thus, the name Meghdhanush. The objective of the campaign is to add colour to a child’s life.
This campaign is associated with our programme called Child Friendly Spaces (CFS) which works towards providing informal education to the child labourers and children belonging to vulnerable households. We want more and more people to get encouraged from this initiative and help us in adding colour to the lives of our little children.
The campaign was launched on 12th June, 2014. You all must be wondering as to why we chose this particular date for the launch? It’s simple. 12th June is a World Day against Child Labour and so, we thought that this was the best day to launch our campaign. Our hospitality partner for the launch of the campaign was Courtyard Marriott. Our guests of honour for the launch were Mr. HP Singh, Director General of Police, Mr. Gaurav Singh, General Manager of Courtyard Marriott and Mr. Rajendra Joshi, the founder of SAATH. The event was started with a small act to tell people to not discourage the kids as we never know what the kids would be doing 20 years down the line. We then, welcomed our guests of honour with a token and then invited Mr. HP Singh, Mr. Gaurav Singh, Mr. Rajendra Joshi, Ms. Keren Nazareth, Ms. Chinmayi Ben, one of our CFS center teacher and one of our CFS center child to light the lamp.
Children performing at Meghdhnush Launching
Post the lighting of the lamp, our guests of honour shared their views on the issue of child labour and on this initiative taken by SAATH. We then had our little kids perform a welcome dance on Vande Mataram. We also had two of our kids sing a Lokgeet for us. The audience were informed about the seven workshops that we would be conducting for our little kids in the course of the year. The guests were informed about the seven CFS centres that SAATH is currently running. A positive case story of one of our little kid who studies in our Vejalpur CFS centre was shared and he interacted with the guests about his experience at CFS class. Gopal Bhai, the coordinator of our CFS programme and all the teachers of our CFS centres shared their experience with SAATH and about the difficulties that they face in getting children to join the CFS centres.
At the end the guests were requested to lend their valuable support to help us fight the issue of child labour. All the children present at the event were given gifts from Women of Voyage Circle. The launching ended on a very good note and we look forward to more positive response and support for the next events to help as many children as possible.
Today we share with you story of Nazma who used to make Rakhi’s at home to help her family and now regularly attends our CFS classes and is soon going to give the exam for 10th Grade to join formal schools.
Nazma is 14 yrs old and is a resident of Fatehwadi, Juhapura area of Ahmedabad. She met Firdausben our CFS teacher during her field visit in the area. Talking with her Firdausben came to know that Nazma has never been to school and makes ‘Rakhi’s’at home to help her family. For making 12 dozen rakhi’s she gets paid Rs. 50. Firdausben came to know that her parents are very reluctant to send girls to school but Firdausben convinced them to come to send Nazma to the CFS classes.
Talking about the class she says, “When I joined the class I entered into a different world where everything was new for me as I had never attended a class of any kind”. Her parents are migrants from Uttar Pradesh and hence she didn’t know any Gujarati at all. In the class she was very eager to learn and showed a lot of enthusiasm for learning new things. Now, her Gujarati is really good, she reads and writes with full speed and her handwriting’s are something to look at.She further says, “Through the class I got a chance to go to a theater to watch a movie for the first time which was another experience I never had before. I really want to study further and join a school, my dream is to become a Doctor”.
For enrolling Nazma to a formal school Firdausben went to meet her parents. She found out that her parents are illiterate. In their family education is very low and there is reluctance to send their children to school especially girls. After much counseling of Nazma’s mother and father by Firdausben they have agreed for Nazma to give exam for 10th standard. Now they are also eager for her to give exam and study ahead.
Today 12th June Saath is observing “World Day Against Child Labour” and theme for this year is “No to Child Labour in Domestic Work”.
Saath has been addressing the issue of child labour through its ‘Child Friendly Spaces‘ (CFS) programme.
The aim of CFS programme is to enroll the children into Formal Education system. CFS centers focus on child labours and provide four hours of informal education and nutrition support to them. At present we have 7 CFS centres, 3 in slums and 4 on construction sites. 474 children have been enrolled in our classes and 40 children have been enrolled back in school through CFS programme.
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Ashraf Chauhan is 31 years old and works as a Project Officer for Saath’s Child Rights for Change rural initiative. Ashraf was born Bhavnagar, a coastal town in Gujarat. At a young age he felt compelled to do something for his community. He witnessed that his community had to deal with various social issues and that there was a lack of proper education. He obtained a masters degree in Social Work (MSw) with a specialization in Rural Development at the university of Bhavnagar in 2002.
After his studies he started working for ‘Kutch Naw Mirman Abhiyan’, an organization that worked in the areas of Kutch that were affected by the devastating earthquake of 2001. It was during this time that he got introduced to Saath. Saath’s first rural project was relief work in the villages of Rapar and Khadir in Kutch. The programme ran from 2001 to 2004.
In 2009 Saath started up the Child Rights for Change programme funded by Save the Children and Ashraf was hired as the project officer for this programme. The Swedish Company Ikea realized that most of the cotton they purchase from India comes from cotton-farms that employ small children. They tied up with Save the Children and started a programme to eradicate child-labour. Saath runs this programme in 120 villages in Viramgam and Dholka, two districts in rural Ahmedabad.
Ashraf says that it’s really fun to work with kids. He thinks it’s very important to create awareness about child-rights, because children are the thriving force for future development of the country. They (the child-rights for change team) have achieved one significant milestone so far and one milestone in-the-making. A certificate of appreciation has been signed by 1,500 farmers in the area. The certificate states that the farmers won’t hire children to work at their farms. The second achievement is in process. It is a resolution that will be signed by the panchayat of all the participating 120 villages. It states that no child in their village will work.
Ashraf sees the change happening. You can see the effect of the programme in the numbers of children going to school. Before the programme started, all children were working at farms. Nowadays, from the 10,000 children, 6,000 are out of child-labour. The remaining 4,000 children combine working with attending school. Ashraf hopes that those kids will also find their way out of child labour.
The thing he likes most about his job is giving awareness trainers to farmers and parents. It’s very awarding to see the change happen in the parents. Convincing parents is almost the most difficult part of his job. It’s very tough to persuade them to bring their children to school. Many villagers don’t see the benefits of education. Their children will have to learn how to work anyway and they don’t learn that through school. Besides, they need the extra income. Firstly he tries to persuade them by pointing out short-term benefits. He explains to them that their children will be provided with a nutritious lunch at school every day and that they are in a save, protected environment while the parents are at work. Ashraf also tries to change their mind-set to a long-term perspective. At school children will learn important things that they won’t learn on the cotton-fields. Children that receive proper education on a regular basis will be able to find better jobs at the right age. The cycle of poverty can be broken by education. The farms will also benefit from educated employees. Better educated staff will be able to manage the farms better and bring new solutions and fresh ideas to their businesses.
Next to trainings he also likes to participate in developing new strategies with the eight partners that are involved with the Child Rights for Change Programme. Through working for Saath Ashraf has been able to profile himself as a good trainer. He has built a valuable network with the local government and NGOs. In the future he would like to continue the work he is doing now: helping more children out of child labour.