• A Child is meant to Learn, not to Earn

    Situation before Intervention: Born in 2006, at a remote village in Bihar (one of the eastern states in India, neighbouring West Bengal), Badal Das came to Kolkata with his family at the age of 10 years, in 2016. He studied in a school in his native village and had been a Class II drop out in 2016, before coming to the city of joy. He stays with his parents at Raja Bazaar (located in North-Central Kolkata). His father is the owner of a small shoe stall near Dharmatala (Central Kolkata) Bus Stand and being the only child, he helped his father with their family business. Needless to mention, Badal’s mother is a house-wife with hardly any say in their family and thus was unable to pay any attention or guide him with any good suggestion.
    Situation after Intervention: Badal was identified in September, 2017, by our social worker in Dharmatala and was immediately brought under our supervision. Immediate action was taken and Badal’s father was socially counselled by our team about the fundamental understanding of Child Labour Regulation Act and the Offense associated with this Law.
    In the beginning Badal’s father was not willing to co-operate as according to him, he was not committing a crime since it was his own son and early-earning helps one to understand the value and thus create, a respect for money. That childhood is meant for education and learning and hence, education is the only method which can enable a child to think in a progressive manner – was specifically emphasized by our social worker. Finally, his father succumbed to the idea of importance of education to grow and evolve as a human being and thus our Child Watch team assisted Badal with admission at Mouzilal Primary School (located beside New Market Police Station, in Dharmatala) on 1st December, 2017, in Class IV.
    Though it was found a couple of times, even after Badal’s enrolment, his engagement with the shoe-business was still on, after his school hours, further intervention was made by the Child watch team. This time, the focus was on the types of punishment one needs to go through, after violation of the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Act. This time, his father took it more seriously and has ensured the team to keep Badal away from any kind of work related activity.
    At present, Badal is 12 years old and is studying in class IV at Mouzilal Primary School. He attends his classes on a regular basis and loves the sessions. Additionally, he has taken up painting as it helps him to channel his thoughts and worries. Regular follow up and supervision by the team is in progress to ensure Badal is safe from any kind of child labour related activity.

  • Children should have pens in their hands, not tools

    Situation before Intervention: Venkat Biswas born in 2012, lived with parents and grandfather on the streets of Kolkata – Moulali (central Kolkata) to be specific. His father suffering from a chronic disease expired when Venkat was 1 year old. Little did the child know about his upcoming bitter days. Love and compassion are two vital things for these people living in such vulnerable conditions and reality changes entirely depending on the subjects of their lives. His mother fell in love with another man and abandoned little Raj at the age of 2 years for good, leaving him alone with his grandmother in 2014. Since then, he has been living on the streets of Moulali with his old grandmother who works as a domestic help to earn one square meal for two.
    Situation after Intervention: Venkat was identified by the Childwatch team in April, 2017 wandering aimlessly and immediate intervention was made thereafter. It was discovered from his grandmother about her daily working hours that allows little Raj to roam around the highly congested Moulali crossing (remarkably known for high traffic and as an accident-prone area in central Kolkata) and play with the other children. Thus, the team explained to his grandmother about different cases of child abduction and child trafficking. Here she mentioned about one such incident when Raj was nowhere to be found for some hours and with the prompt intervention of Kolkata Police, he was brought back miraculously. She also expressed her agony and despair about the current situation and how futile her attempts were to support her grandchild with minimum care, protection or education.
    Vulnerability is a social phenomenon and situations can be really harsh. But again, there is hope, there is faith and there is a better opportunity. Education is that pathway which leads one to aspire for a change. After discussing these facts with Raj’s grandmother, she was convinced to enrol him in a school. However, there still lied the risks of living on the streets.
    Multiple social counselling sessions were conducted by the Childwatch team to raise awareness about Right to Education and Child Protection. Thus on 9th January 2018, Raj was placed in Bengal Service Society Hostel, a Government Hostel for children in Picnic Garden (South Kolkata) where his holistic protection and education along with nutrition will be provided.
    Living on the streets in freedom has its own perks and Venkat was not willing to be separated from his grandmother and stay in a hostel. Once again, the Childwatch team sat with both Venkat and his grandmother and discussed with them about the advantages of staying in a hostel, the disadvantages of living on the streets, cases of child- trafficking and child-abuse. Also that his grandmother can come and visit the child on a regular basis was also mentioned by the team and finally both of them were convinced about staying in hostel.
    At present, Venkat is staying in the hostel and studying in class I at Sunilnagar Primary School (in Picnic Garden, located near the hostel). Regular follow up is being done by the Childwatch team to ensure his stay and Raj’s grandmother visits the child on a daily basis as well. Both are doing well and are thankful to Hope for bringing this change in their perceptions and outlook.