It’s 10 already and the volunteer intervention area at Razabazaar is gearing up for the weekend sessions. In some time the energy of the whole place will change. The children will start chirping, their excitement will mix with the volunteers’ enthusiasm. There will be fun and frolic for which the children wait eagerly all week.
I always knew CRY has started working in our community. And things will change! Every week I will see the “bhaiyas” and the “didis” coming and spending time with the kids. They will teach them but their approach will be quite different- there will be no boring lectures rather everyone will have so much fun! I myself am very driven when it comes to children. I love them-I teach them-everyday I make sure to spend time with them but I wanted to do more, I wanted to do better.
One day, probably 2 years back, I saw a poster notifying that CRY volunteers will organize a health camp for the children in the community. It was for the first time I saw something like this happening. I decided to enroll. As I went to attend, I was overwhelmed by the sincerity of the CRY volunteers. They were so passionate so kind to all of us. The doctors checked us up and prescribed the next steps- the volunteers did not stop at that; they followed up with our parents and with us to ensure we take medicines properly and follow the instructions given by the doctors.
I decided to join the volunteer sessions since that day and every session brought about a new learning in me. I was always very shy and could not articulate my thoughts but as days passed, I started changing. Today I am much more vocal, confident and can decide for myself. I wished to volunteer for CRY and the CRY representatives took me in with an open arm. However, I had to prepare myself hard and had to wait till I became 18. I became the first community volunteer from Razabazaar. I know and firmly believe that the key to resolve our problems lie with us. We have to take charge and change our present in order to get a bright future; for all of us, especially for the children.
Today, I am known face in the community as I would go door-to-door to consult the parents why their children should attend our sessions. The intervention started with less than 10 children and today, after a proper community calling there will be at least 60-70 happy faces, eager to learn. I think this is what I take back home.
After I finish my class 12 board exam, I want to pursue law. Tough, I would continue my sessions. Already I have managed two of my friends, from the community, to join me in my endeavour. I am sure a day will come when the intervention area will be filled with volunteers from the community.
Zeeshan just turned 18. We cannot imagine our work in the Rajabazar community without his help. You have to see him in action to believe it!
I am a survivor of clinical depression. I confess.
I screamed at my parents; every day, every hour. I confess.
I blacked out during my first year college exams. I confess.
Shaggy hair. Unchanged clothes. Ugly crying through the night. Pills swallowed and a blade hidden under my mattress. I confess.
It was scary. It was grotesque. It was madness. I confess.
Though that changed. Not over a day. Not over a single mail. Not over a single orientation. It took a week, a few months and a couple of years.
CRY invited me to volunteer. I was introduced to a community. A Geography teacher, a Merchant Navy officer, a group of sophomores, a post-graduate, an IT specialist, a marketing associate.
I was re-introduced to a community. A different venue, this time. Homemakers gathered around the community tap, children peering through drawn curtains, a sister carrying her baby brother on her back, a teenager sitting inside the family store – a pen and an exercise book in his hand, finishing his homework for the day. Lanes were narrow, rooms were pigeon-coups. Littering all around; puddles and mud to fill the spaces.
I felt privileged. I felt ashamed.
My very first assignment came. The role of a teacher in a skit. Lines upon lines to remember. Bengali never seemed so impossible.
Time for a community call. Heard my co-volunteers discussing the posters they made and a night that they sacrificed. Curious faces looked up to us. A volunteer sat down with a lady on the rail-lines and conversed about the education of children. A group of prepubescent shouted out to us. They have pasted the poster in every lane, carried the spare and distributed it among their neighbours. I witnessed something new that day. I witnessed enthusiasm.
A stereotype was broken. Far from the sketches of our dailies. Numbers become people. Pictures become faces.
A single room, it is known as the local club. About ten volunteers, about double the number of children. Sometimes the light did not work, the ceiling fan refused to be switched on. It was raining cats and dogs. The sun was beating down on everyone’s back. The cold was trying to give us frostbite. The children remained, so did we.
The second phase of my journey began. Some had their classes and others their jobs to attain. No one was available. I volunteered and I surprised myself. No push was there, no pressure. It felt right. It felt natural. I started visiting Government schools, both fully and partially sponsored. The ceiling had its plaster peeling off. The computers no longer worked. A monitor was even stolen. Children milled about during their recess. A girl wished me afternoon. Another told me about the midday meal she had. The teachers stood up, pulled their chairs for me. Asked if I want any drink? I was astonished.
A man came to visit the principle. He smiled shyly and said to her about the decision of letting his daughter continue her studies, marriage will only happen when the girl gets herself established.
The principal in the second school talked animatedly to me. Pointed at the newly potted plants. The ground that has been swept, no rubbish for a few months at least.
CRY donated laptops to them. An initiative to digitalise the curriculum. Every Tuesday I met the interns, I met a co-volunteer who came running after his CAT prep sessions. A guide text was prepared and translated. We taught and teachers learned.
Quarterly visits were made by Anindita Di – part my mentor and the rest my friend. There were days when I phoned her up; exasperated, lonely and struggling. She talked about her initial days, sketched me a motivation. Her days, her nights and in betweens – the conflicts, the frustration and the sheer urge to quit. She made it feel natural; she prepared and guided me through.
And she become much more. She became a family.
Then there were a thousand days and a million nights – I attended the health camp with a running fever, counselling the families in medicine and practices. I gave a talk before a room full of guardians and school staff. My hands were still trembling, my heart still beating a staccato. I still lived to tell the tale.
Children changed my life. I confess.
Volunteering changed my life. I confess.
I still have my inhibitions in giving a talk. I still have bad days. I still get overwhelmed facing so many challenges. I confess.
CRY made me smile and changed my life for better. I confess.
CRY VOLUNTEER at Dhakuria
SAMSA organized ‘Udaan’: a health camp for the deprived kids in a slum near Rajabazaar and Ballygunge area, Kolkata in association with Child Rights and You. 200 children from the surrounding slum areas attended the camp. SAMSA volunteers did a basic health checkup including visual and hearing tests followed by anthropometry and counseling regarding hygiene, diet and prevention of some common diseases. Interns attended to their specific health ailments. The follow up of those needing further interventions will also be done by the CRY volunteers and the doctors from SAMSA.
I am T.A.Nagalakshmi doing Political Science Honours (1st year) under the Department of International Relations in Jadavpur University. My journey with CRY started when I completed my class 12 exams this year. While I was looking for some kind of part time job, I got the opportunity to do internship in CRY. I did surveys regarding child labour, took exams of children in Dhakuria PAG, and was part of the Aashayein event. Those experiences were so pleasant that I didn’t want to leave working with this organization and those lovely kids.
That’s when I decided to do volunteering. I started volunteering in Kalighat-Chetla PAG from the month of June. Being almost the younger member of the core group was something very special and I realized the trust that Anindita Ma’am had on me. Even though not a professional teacher, I started to provide the children with that knowledge that I had received. The number of children at the beginning was around 10. Going to the PAG on Sunday morning 9:45, children coming to learn, leaving the PAG at 12- this became a part of my weekly routine.
Even though I was committed to other priorities too, I did not want to miss that one class in which I got a chance to see so many children together. Each and every child had a talent, one could sing, the other could dance, while some could paint so beautifully that I myself got inspired from them. There have been days when I had thought that even I had got an opportunity to learn several things but why did I waste them. These children could not afford paying in other activities but they had such immense talent within them. That day, I got to learn a lesson from them that every chance should be utilised to its fullest because every chance is a golden opportunity.
The journey with CRY has been quite good that it cannot be described in just few words. From being a teacher to a good friend, CRY and those children are an important part of my life. Their smile is something valuable that easily brings happiness to others life. There have been several inspiring and beautiful moments of which I would like to share2 of them. There is a boy named Manab who is 6 years old. Every week he turn up to the session with punctuality only to learn ‘A B C D….’ .I have always admired his sincerity. These children always look up for something that they can learn and enrich themselves in that field. One of those kids is Sushobon who draws so beautiful. It’s hard to believe but yes, he doesn’t goes to a drawing class and it’s purely his natural talent.
Volunteer- Kalighat Public Action Group.
We, the volunteers at CRY Howrah had the pleasure to interact with Ravi, a little soccer genius and the lead of the local “Howrah Band”. Ravi could make music with just the help of used bottles and sticks, which made him pretty popular in his locality. But for his entire musical prowess, Ravi had problems in speaking properly. So, we tried interacting with him, in an effort to see what exactly was ailing little Ravi. Initially he was hesitant to attend sessions at CRY Howrah. However, after repeated persuasion, Ravi started to attend the sessions where we discovered his insecurities and problem that Ravi was unable to hear properly, at least for the last 6 to 7 years, and that in turn affected his power of speech.
So, we decided to consult many hospitals and find out what medical examinations were required to help diagnose Ravi’s condition. After the checkups, it was concluded that Ravi would be fine with the help of hearing aids. Since hearing aids were beyond the means of the family, we started corresponding with the National Institute of Hearing Handicapped (NIHH). We made several visits in alternate groups and each time we felt that we are close to get the hearing aid but each time we returned disappointed. There were even times when his parents could not accompany us but we were determined to get the hearing aid for the child who creates magical music with the waste drums.
After one and a half year of struggle we finally were able to get a handicapped certificate issued for Ravi with other necessary documents, Mr. Vajpayee of NIHH helped in providing Ravi with his new set of hearing aids.
All of us were really happy when Ravi finally got his hearing aids. Hopefully, the lead of “Howrah Band” can sing along to the tune of his bottles and sticks.
“Ravi’s life instils my belief in the fact- Smile, because you are designed to and the WORLD waits for you!!”
Gunjan Agarwal, a proud volunteer from CRY Howrah.
On the eve of World Day against Child Labour, CRY celebrated its 3rd edition of Aashayein, the day long fun filled event for children, in association with Indian Museum, at Ashutosh Birth Centenary Hall, this Sunday.
‘Aashayein’ was all about activities and workshop on self-defence, life skills, museum tours and performances by the children from the action areas taken care of by the CRY volunteers. More than 80 children and 120 Volunteers and CRY officials turned up for this daylong event, this year.
Self- defense workshop kick started with black belt trainers Ankush, Abha and Nishant who conducted taekwondo training. They were eager to interact with the kids and appreciated their love for learning.
This was followed by a session on life skill conducted by psychologist Ruchi Bakhai from Edupsych. She conducted an engaging and interactive session raising the spirits of the children with fun activities like drawing, singing where the children showcased their talent and appreciated each other with joyous claps and smiles.
Up next, was the inauguration of the initiative against Child Labour, by eminent guests, Prosenjit Chatterjee and Parno Mitra. The day concluded with cultural performances from kids belonging to the Volunteer Intervention action areas. Kids from Dhakuria performed a dance on Rabindra Sangeet – Alo Amar Alo, kids from Rajabazar performed an act raising awareness on child labour, kids from Howrah surprised us with synchronized drum and song performances, wherein the instruments were made by the kids themselves, from material readily available to them. This was followed by poetry recitation & song performances by kids from Dhapa.
Eminent actors, Prosenjit Chatterjee and Parno Mitra, graced the event with their presence, and spent quality time appreciating the performances of the children.
A month long awareness campaign on Child Labour, to be driven by Kolkata police, was launched by Mohua Chatterjee, Head of Programmes at CRY, East region, which comes as a part of CRY’s campaign in Delhi and Mumbai.
She motivated all to take a pledge to eradicate child labour and allow the latent individual qualities each child has, and thanked Kolkata Police for their support for the initiative
Regarding this, Parno mentioned, “We often say that children are the future of our nation, however, it breaks my heart to read about issues related to child labour everyday in newspapers. I really appreciate CRYs effort to bring a positive change in the same“. Prosenjit too, thanked CRY for taking up such an initiative, and said, “My appeal to all is to come together and ensure that all children get equal opportunity to live, learn, grow and play, and not to be within the confines of child labour. On behalf of the entire Bengali film industry, I am mentioning, that we would be happy to be part of such initiatives from CRY, in future.”
Special Thanks to Cabcon India Pvt Ltd and Denzong Kitchen for extending their support in sponsoring to make this a memorable one.
Awareness cum Workshop on Child Sexual Abuse
Innocence is beautiful; it is sometimes vulnerable like a small new bloom. It is indeed disgraceful and inhuman when this innocence is vandalized. Children personify beautiful hearts which have known nothing but love and liveliness, their giggles which resonates their free spirits and their endless laughter which can make one let go of their worries. They are a treasure and they should only be handled with tenderness and endearment. It is indeed disheartening that some fail to understand the same and they have no hesitation in harming such happy souls. In a world which encompasses a lot of danger, we aim towards cocooning them into a shell which is safe and invulnerable. All we want for them is to breathe in a safe world, a world where they believe in themselves and they believe in the power within. To enlighten them about one certain societal sin CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE (CSA), we conducted numerous workshops under the “Project Baalrakshak”. Not only to make them aware of the same, but to help them fight it, to bring them to talk about it to their close ones and to ultimately make them understand that it was NO fault of theirs if they had faced something of that sort. The workshop was carried out among students of different age groups. Recently kids from Class V to Class VIII were addressed in different batches at a school name “Hiradi Kesiasole M.S.K” which is situated in Hiradi, Paschim Mednipur; an upper primary school located about 4 kms from IIT Kharagpur campus. CSA is a sensitive issue to deal with and talk about. To make kids understand about what CSA actually embodies is difficult, but Rajarshi Debnath, our energetic volunteer, reached out to the kids very delicately. Not only did he make the kids comfortable by his humorous tactics but also drew their attention towards what he was going to address next. It was really warming to see how he started talking about simple words like “Danger” and “Safe” and how Child Rights and You (CRY) IIT Kharagpur Volunteer Chapter blended those with the different lights of Traffic Signals. Subtlety being of prime importance, he gave examples of the fictitious superheroes of the world and how they save us from villains. He made them agree to the fact that parents and teachers are no less than superheroes (superman/superwoman) in our lives and how we should approach them without any hesitation in case of denial or discomfort.One story led to the other and then the National Award winning short film “Komal” by a NGO name Childline on CSA was screened. The kids seemed perplexed, shocked and offended as they watched Komal weep as she was victimised. Strange, they must have thought, the world is so unfair, cruel and heartless. When Rajarshi asked them what they comprehended, they were hesitating to speak up. More than hesitation, it was disbelief! Rajarshi gradually spoke about the four danger zones of the body with utmost gentleness. He made it very clear to them that None is allowed to touch those four danger zones (except parents and doctors, if required) neither should they touch anyone else’s. He made them shout “NO” and throw their hands forward in objection. He told them to shout, push and run to their superheroes if any situation of that sort ever arises. When the session got over, the kids were excited to go back home as it was already dismissal time. Some of them in their playfulness couldn’t wait to race their bicycles back home, forgetting the grave expressions of Komal which had disturbed them a while back. Even though the bicycle race became the most important task of their life right then, I knew those saturnine small eyes had a million questions, they did not completely understand why it happened, but they knew it was wrong, very wrong.53% of children are sexually abused in India in some form or the other every year. It is atrocious and it has to STOP. Under this project till date 6 sessions are being conducted in 3 schools were children from nursery to class VIII participated, also 2 sessions were conducted with the parents of those children. Even if we are able to save 1% of those children, we shall feel less sinful if not liberated. As Swindoll once said, “Each day of our life we make deposits in the memory banks of our children”. Team Baalrakshak will thrive to embellish lives’ of children and we shall not stop till we have the richest banks. After all, it is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men!
Child Rights and You (CRY) IIT Kharagpur Volunteer Chapter
Volunteer, CRY IIT KGP Chapter
On the auspicious occasion of our 68th Republic Day, the Dhakuria Public Action group of Child Rights and You organized their annual event, “THINK FREE” scheduled at Dakshinapan Shopping Complex from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm. It is a yearly event, managed by the volunteers, held in Dhakuria which endorses the potential talent of the kids. The kids have been practising for months and their excitement was brimming with enthusiasm. We had volunteers from across the city to conduct this eventful episode of fun and entertainment.
After all the necessary arrangements and setup the event finally took a kick start. Kavitha and Jojo gave a crisp introduction of CRY and narrated the outline of the event which comprised Singing, dancing and dramatics. We had a lovely beginning with the kids singing Bengali song in full rhythm. They all had a fantastic energy. This was followed by a special solo dance performance by Sujata Das who mesmerized us with her spectacular steps. Her mother Shanti Das went emotional after this performance and said “It’s wonderful to see my daughter on stage. I have my blessings with her and hope she always moves forward in her life”. The crowd was equally appreciative of her performance.
Now it was the time for volunteers to strike a few notes. Supratim and Jojo lending their beautiful voices with soulful music. Next was Debjani Di ready with her directorial venture. The story “Magic Ayena” is written on the concept of Magic Mirror, which can show your true self, your inner power of achieving something in life. Because Magic is believing in yourself, if you can do that, you can make anything happen. The kids were looking adorable in their makeup and costume. The play was received very well by the audience where kids’ parents were also present. They all looked proud and happy to see their kids perform. Amongst the audience, we had a visitor from London named Haity and she was really impressed by the art and craft display by the kids, which was also put on exhibition.
We had some of our volunteers going down the memory lane and sharing some of their childhood experiences, hoping to have a positive influence on the kids. It was time for one more singing performance both by volunteers and kids. The kids commemorated our Republic day with a wonderful song “Mera Mulk Mera Desh Mera Ye Watan”.One of our PAG kids, Amit gave an amazing speech about Republic Day & CRY in his mother tongue. We also had Ankit Gupta, another PAG kid, giving a warm speech that CRY has shown him the path to progress and he also aspires to run an NGO one day to help the underprivileged kids.
Finally we our last performance of the evening with the volunteers singing a beautiful melody together and kids performing a dance on the song-“Maa Tujhe Salaam”. Arpita, one of our volunteers, had her parents there who said “We appreciate the efforts taken by CRY for this noble cause. Great to see that they provide such a platform to these wonderful kids. We hope that more people will come forward to support this movement and give our children a better future”.
Mr and Mrs Sinha, Proprietors of “Glass House” (Event Sponsors) were thanked for their amazing support and encouragement. Mrs Sinha said, “I feel proud to be associated with CRY. I appreciate the volunteers for the work they are doing as it motivates the kids to harness their hidden potential”.
Anindita Ma’am from CRY felicitated the guests and thanked them for their support. Mr Sinha awarded the certificates to all the participants and praised them for their contribution. Food packets and chocolates were distributed to the kids which again brought a smile on their face. Inspired by our efforts, a lady from the audience, announced to gift ice creams to all the kids. Such a sweet gesture from her! Finally we wrapped up this memorable event with our National Anthem as it was apt to celebrate the momentous occasion. We will continue our pledge and support to these kids and come up with such amazing events in future also.
Media Advocacy Volunteer
Child Rights & You
A successful Workshop cum Awareness program on Child Sexual Abuse was conducted by the Volunteers of IIT Kgp at Arasini and Amlatoria primary School. There was an overwhelming response from both the teachers and students. Two sessions of 35 to 40 minutes each approx. was taken where the students along with the teachers participated. The first session was for students of class 3rd & 4th and the second session for class 1st & 2nd . Few students in the second session were also from nursery classes . In both the sessions teachers participated and supported actively, they were also recording the sessions on their mobile phone for future reference.
It was an interactive session in an edutainment environment. An animated story based video (10 minutes) was screened on child sexual abuse and it’s message was conveyed to children up to their understanding. We make them understand the meaning of Safe and Unsafe touch and how to protect themselves form an unsafe touch. We told them that there are 4 Danger areas in our body where we should not allow any one to touch other than our parents when required (bathing) and we should also not touch others. We taught them that, if they happen to fall in any kind of unsafe situation they should shout No and run to a safer place towards their parents or teachers and tell them everything without any fear or shame. They could also draw to convey the things if they face any difficulty in communication. There should be no secret among them and their parents. Whenever, wherever and with whomsoever they go, they should take permission from their parents to ensure their safety.
We tried to convince the children that we (elders, parents, and teachers) always trust them and they should never hide any such things for their own safety and well-being.
Finally, teachers appreciated our efforts and we got a positive and encouraging feedback. Head madam told that last week they got a letter from higher authorities where it was mentioned that teachers should speak about this matter with the students, but they were clueless on how to deal with such delicate issue and now as we have put the matter in a proper way they have also got an idea on how to speak about it. Teachers also agreed that they can arrange a meeting with the parents to make them aware the same.
( Volunteer at IIT KGP CRY Chapter )
The CRY – Tezpur University Volunteer Chapter 2016 was held on 18th September 2016 in the Lecture Hall of the School of Engineering, Tezpur University. The event had a total attendance of around 50 students, out of whom 20 were volunteers of the Chapters while close to 30 students came to know more about the Chapter.
The Orientation was more of an interactive session and it began with showing a few videos to the attendees that was shared by CRY followed by the sharing of the statistics about the current scenario of children in India also provided by CRY so as to emphasize the problems the chapter wants to depict.
Following this, the mechanics of the Chapter were discussed and this was followed by a Q/A session when the volunteers got answers to their queries.
The Leadership Grooming program was briefly introduced. After the Orientation got over, the core team members sat down amidst the attendees who now wanted to join the Chapter and discussed various issues related to the Chapter. Each and every single attendee joined the Chapter that day and their dedication was proved when they implemented an initiative in less than a week’s time after the Orientation. Personally, I was satisfied with the event as it helped us form a close-knit team of dedicated volunteers which would help us implement our plans.
Volunteer (Tezpur University -CRY Chapter)
On the 17th of September 2016, Jadavpur University saw a few yellow t-shirts hustling and bustling in their campus interacting with passing by startled students. The thing that grabbed their attention was a collection drive organized by CRY Dhakuria Public Action Group (PAG) Volunteers towards making art and crafts to be displayed during the annual PAG event named “Think Free. The drive started roughly around 1pm with two students donating a bunch of thermocol cups along with a few plastic spoons. Their names were registered and invitation cards for the main event “THINK FREE”, were handed over to them
A bright yellow color poster stuck right behind the CRY stall where the donors wrote little messages for the children. With cheery smiles and willingness to support our cause many students joined in pretty soon, some donated poster colors while some, packets of un-used ear buds. One incident that really moved me which I must share, there were some students who had no idea of what was going on in the campus but the minute they heard about it, they went to nearby shops to buy the required items and came back to donate. These warm gestures instantly litup the mood of our drive. I could hear a group of people reflect upon their childhood painting classes and sail down the memory lane. It was good to feel wanted, it was good to feel like we belonged to them and that the work is being recognized. The drive went on for another 4 hours and at the end of it, the total collection came down to an unimaginable quantity. The immense support and co-operation received from Jadavpur University deserves an applaud and restored my belief that if you work for good, good will follow you surprisingly even the most big challenges will fall behind . Kudos to all the volunteers and Anindita Ma’am for all the hard work which made this “drive” a grand success. In this context I would like to say that -Someday I wish I could go back to life not to change anything, but to feel a few things twice and this was one of those moments. Signing out with a hope for a better future.
I am a second year student of Calcutta University; always had an inclination to do something for the deprived section of the society and that reverie came into being when I got a chance to intern with CRY this summer.
On the joining day in CRY, I came here with my absolute commitment and dedication to complete my assignment successfully, get a certificate and produce it as and when required for my career growth. But in a very short while I could experience a different bit in myself when I got so engrossed in ‘Ride for Child Rights’ under the National Campaign ‘School the Spark’. Suddenly I realized that there are several like-minded people around me and they are the Volunteers of CRY. I took no time to mingle, discuss and voice out my opinion with them. Out of several deliberations we came up with the launching of the Volunteer Initiative Event where Over 30 bikers came together to show their solidarity from Eastern Bulls in collaboration with CRY organized a Motorcycle Rally on 14th Aug.
This rally eventually became so special for me because it was my first working experience as an intern with CRY and also be a part of such great cause. I and my co- intern made slogans for the event which can emphasize the aim that is to ensure right to education. This again brought out creative spree in me. During this time we received the desired support from our mentors.
As an intern I was very excited and curious for this rally as it was my first event with CRY. Being part of it I could witness a lazy Sunday morning saw the Russel Street area, waking up to the rumble of over 30 Royal Enfield’s, with riders cruising from Russel Street, to Victoria Memorial, onwards to Exide more, and finally concluding their ride at Deshapriya Park. CRY banners of ‘School the Spark’ were upheld at each stop. As the rally ended up it left me amazed to see that every individual over there was encouraging the importance of child education.
I feel overwhelmed to be a part in this event. It made my Sunday so special to start the day with full of joy enthusiasm and motivation to do as much as I could. I got a great opportunity through this platform to work for the betterment of children. With the end of this event my motivation has taken leap and my eagerness to serve the society has definitely increased.
Hope our contribution in many ways brings a lasting change in the lives of children!
The Rajabazar action group of Child Rights and You organized an event “BACHPAN KE RANG” on 30th July. The objective of this event was to recreate the magic of childhood and make the kids realize that childhood is the most integral part of our lives. Volunteers came up together for this memorable event. The event was held at Mominpur High school premises after the school hours. The event was scheduled from 2:00 p.m to 5:00 p.m. The Councillor of the area, Mr.Prakash Upadhyay also graced the event with his presence. He gave an inspiring speech to the kids to stay healthy, positive and keep progressing in life. Volunteers had reached early along with the necessary equipment. The school was highly supportive and helpful in organizing this event.
At 1:30 p.m kids from invited schools joined together. All the volunteers got busy in making them comfortable and were given a warm welcome. The excitement across their faces was exemplary. Kamalika, one of the volunteers kick started the event with an introduction about CRY. A brief description of the background of our organization made it the perfect opening for an afternoon to be remembered.
The event was divided into four parts – Drama (both by kids and volunteers), Art & Craft competition, Quiz competition and last but not the least Music. We started the event with a drama performed by the school kids. The drama was conceptualized by our volunteers and they took special sessions to train these kids. Sharp dialogue delivery and precise expressions added to the spice of the play. Rest of the children enjoyed the play thoroughly and learnt an important lesson-“We should not be involved in unnecessary arguments and demands from our parents. Good deeds done will come back to us in some form of the other”. This was followed by a quiz competition where the children participated in full enthusiasm.
Bag making was the most enjoyable activity as it allowed the kids to show their imaginative and creative talent. Volunteers had arranged for all the necessary items required for this competition-adhesive, glitters, sparkles and most important a piece of old cloth. The noise level was deafening and at times it was difficult to restrain the chaos but then we had Rupsha who was at her innovative best to control them. Some brilliant designs came up including the one where a child portrayed her love for our Motherland India. Again we had an important message hidden in this activity the 3R’s-Reuse, Reduce and Recycle.
Now it was our volunteers’ turn to enact a play. With some benevolent and vicious characters, the kids enjoyed and laughed their heart out. They also got to learn that Peace and harmony are two important characteristics for us to live in society.
To conclude the wonderful event was the singing and music show by our volunteers-Dipanita and Shiladitya behind the microphone and Ritayan and Mohit playing the guitar. It seemed that the kids were waiting for this part with great anticipation. Their energy level reached to a new high and every individual joined us with their voices. It was a power-packed performance by our volunteers and the smile on the kid’s faces gave us immense satisfaction.
The event turned out to be a huge success as we got a massive response from the kids. Mio Amore sponsored us with food packets for the kids which was given at the end. In the view of Mohammed Aquib, a student “bahut acha laga specially wo recycling and quiz activity and gaana sun kar maza hi aagya”(Felt really nice especially the recycling and quiz competition. Thoroughly enjoyed the songs. ). Hoping to come with a larger space the next time so as to accommodate more kids, as around 150 turned up for this event. We will continue to pledge our support for the kids with such events as children are an integral part of our society.
Volunteer, Media Advocacy.
Education is inoculation to destruction. Unfortunate though, some are compelled to turn a Nelson’s eye to it either by chance or sometimes by choice.
This is the story of Md. Aadil (name changed) who was in the middle of his teenage. The sixteen-year-old had to quit school at the age of eleven when he was in class 5 because of the bad company he was indulged in.
He spent the next five years working and stealing to desperately meet his expenses for the drugs and alcohol he had become addicted to. Being from a poor family, his parents could give him food and shelter but they had no money for his drugs, which led to him to steal.
Poisonous twigs never bloom aesthetic flowers. Eventually he started selling drugs too. The neighbours were his primary customers. His parents had no control over him whatsoever. He did what he pleased and threatened to leave his home if his demands were not met.
The dawn was not far. Five years into this lifestyle, two volunteers from CRY (Rajiv and Mohit) went to the neighbourhood looking for children who had dropped out of or never enrolled into a school and they came across this boy.
They visited the family numerous times for counselling Aadil and they exuded the same level of energy and commitment every time to win over, persuade and convert Aadil. Certain visits were often late at night, 10 o’clock on one specific instance. The tireless efforts bore pivotal fruits. He finally broke his ties with his erroneous pals (who refused to speak to us), and agreed to get enrolled to Momin High School which is one of the best schools of Rajabazar.
At the age of seventeen, he took admission in Class 6. He has been clean and sober for 3 months, as claimed by his parents. Also, he has scored well in his latest class test, as claimed by the school principal.
We have the whole Back to School (BTS) team who deserve an exultant applause of approbation for convincing Aadil and the school.
-Media Advocacy Team, with inputs from Rajabazar PAG
Millions of children are out of school and needs your support. Do your bit by joining us at Motorcycle Rally organised by CRY in collaboration with Eastern Bulls to help increase the awareness for the cause we all are striving to achieve. Make this Sunday, the 14th different from usual ones, Come, Join hands with us and be the reason for a child’s smile.
Start Point- Russel Street (8 am)
Mid point- Exide
End Point- Deshapriya Park (9 am)
“Share My World”
“When was the last time you allowed yourself to be led by a child into her world?
and shared her joy of discovery?
When was the last time you were thrilled at re-discovering something
you thought you knew oh-so-well?
When was the last time you shared the unique perspective of children
About the world that they occupy? “
When imagination turns into reality its beauty goes beyond imagination. That’s what the people at CRY strive for, the children whom they work for. Photography today is a widely acclaimed skill which can strengthen a person’s capabilities. Now to crystallize this picture perfect moment,photography Volunteers trained 8 kids in photography skills, so that they could capture countless moments through their lenses. As this training progressed, the kids started capturing wonderful photographs.The pictures that these children captured had far more to say just than the fact that they learnt how to operate a camera. Each picture captured by these children, encapsulated the endless capabilities and insight of these children. They have their perspectives of the world and they shared it with such enthusiasm and creativity. All these Photographs were assembled into a book named “Share My World” as this book portrays the world through the kid’s lenses.
Finally after months of training the photo-book “Share My World” was launched on 17th July, 2016. This launch constituted of two events, one of which was held at CRY’s office and the other at Oxford book store, Park Street in the presence of eminent personalities.
At CRY Office an interaction session between the kids and the National Manager-CSR & Environment of RICOH Mr. Hitesh Sharma was organized. The first glimpse of the photo-book was shared there. The kids shared with immense enthusiasm, the experiences which they went through during this photography training. It was an overwhelming feeling to know how happy and content the kids were about this training and photo-book launch. They even wish to carry forward this skill that they learnt, and are eager to teach other kids as well.
The second event was at the Oxford Book Store in Park Street where we had some distinguished guests, namely Dr. Aniruddha Deb (a psychiatrist and member of the Crystal Wellness Clinic), Mr. JayantKriplani (an Indian film, television and stage actor, director and trainer), Ms. Monideepa Banerjee (NDTV Reporter), Ms. SeemaSapru (The Principal of the Heritage School, Kolkata), Mr. Hitesh Sharma (National Manager-CSR & Environment of RICOH) and Ms. PoojaMarwaha(Chief Executive Officer of CRY) who launched the photo book “ Share My World” and participated in a panel discussion on “ Are we creating enough space for children to lead a healthy, happy and creative life?”The audience and volunteers present had an enriching experience as they took part in an interactive session with the notable personalities belonging to wide spectrum of professions.
Our notable guests shared their insights and experiences with the conclusion that with a collective effort we can achieve our vision of a happy, healthy and creative childhood for all children.
Intern at CRY East
|Fear holds us down, and hope sets us free!!|
Around 10.13 million children in India are living under the fearful confines of labour from ages as young as 5years. They have very little hope of getting a chance at growing up properly as they face the harrow of labour when they should be basking in the innocence of childhood. CRY works to ensure that these children receive an equal and unhindered chance at life like we all have, while growing up.
The panel discussion on child rights in R.G. Kar Medical College was an initiative which CRY took to raise awareness among people, a large number of whom were future doctors of this country. Being a part of the dignified and exhilarating college fest Lobelia was a great experience for me. The panel discussion was graced with distinguished panellists like singer Surajit Chatterjee, from the celebrated Bengali band ‘Bhoomi’, Ms. Papiya Sultana, an Assistant Commissioner of Police and popular television singer and anchor, Debaleena Bhattacharya. They were joined by Dr. Sandip Haldar, a well known professor from R.G Kar college itself and our very own Associate General Manager of CRY, Mr. Satya Gopal Dey, fondly known as Satyada.
R.G. Kar was in a festive mood and the college was adorning beauty through its decorations. The panel discussion itself was extremely enriching and stressed upon some very pressing issues on the topic. Each panellist talked about child rights from the point of view of their field of work, and it garnered within me the sense that everyone can do something about changing the harsh reality. Ms. Papiya Sultana excellently stressed upon the various legalities that are associated with chid labour and also shared with the audience her experience of dealing with child labour, as a police woman. Ms Debaleena also shared with us great inputs of how largely the media can play a role in countering child labour. Satya da kept the audience gripped with his never ending flow of knowledge on the topic. The panel was duly conducted with great enthusiasm by Mohini, one of the volunteers of CRY. Surajit brought an end to the exhilarating and mind stirring panel discussion, with the enticing melody of his singing.
The event was a milestone for CRY, as they successfully opened up a Chapter in the medical college, and formed a tie with them towards working for a better life for some children. The panel discussion brought to light the harsh reality and the graveness of this reality, of child labour. I was honoured to be a part of the whole event, and it was great to be spreading awareness amongst the future doctors of this nation. I was ecstatic about the fact that the panel discussion could garner the minds of such a large audience. It was humble of the college to help us with the platform for citing such an issue, among such a large audience. We work towards with the simple goal of giving hope to children who would otherwise face a desolate reality.
Intern at CRY East
Hope is like a daring bird which flies high in the firmament at the darkest hour of the night and renders a conviction that the dawn is not far away. In a world driven by corporatism, we often turn a Nelson’s eye to the bounteous nature that sustains us. On the 5th of June, a date earmarked as ‘World Environment Day’, around 70 children from Dhakuria, Howrah and Rajabazar participated in Aashayein, a one-of-a-kind event organized by CRY in the Indian Museum.
As I pulled up my socks and made my way to the Indian Museum on a moist morning, the buzz and the hysteria in the scene was totally exhilarating. CRY volunteers, dressed in their patent, bright yellow outfits, accompanied the children, who were bubbling with enthusiasm and excitement, all set to Carpe Diem! After being served breakfast packets, the children poised themselves for the inauguration ceremony and registration before briskly moving to the workshop stalls. The event comprised five avant-garde workshops for children on clay modelling, painting, music, photography and origami. While some children made beelines in front of clay model stall, others thronged towards the photographer in the scene. The man sporting the camera with his composure and precision taught the gathering how to capture every nuance details of the moment into one clear and flawless picture.
While strolling around the museum, I could also hear several volunteers singing. With their melodious voices, these volunteers serenaded sweet songs to the children as they gathered in numbers for the music workshop. Hallelujah! Credit also needs to be given those playing instruments for making the atmosphere lively and enticing for the children. Besides, one could also witnessed painters, the finest connoisseurs of art, supporting the willing children in their pursuit to make a vivid, colorful painting. In the stall adjacent to this workshop, children were taught origami, the art of transforming a flat piece of paper into a finished sculpture, depicting simple objects like plane, boat et al. This craft demanded a great deal of dexterity, technique and focus and the kids were equally up to it. Through these workshops, children got an opportunity to test their proficiency in different skills.
After lunch, the children were guided to the ABC auditorium of the museum where two programs were slated to be held. The first of these was a movie screening by the British Council on environment and its importance. The succeeding program was a session held by the WWF (World Wildlife Fund) on illegal trade of wildlife. Being a poignant and somber reality in today’s times, the issue had to be brought up before the children and thrown light on.
Aashayein concluded with the final event of the day, a children-celebrity interaction session at the main Museum building. The exquisite evening saw children interacting with five distinguish guests from different walks of life. Amongst these was Mr. Parambrata Chatterjee, a renowned name in the Tollywood film industry sharing an account of his journey to stardom and harping on the importance of a clean and green environment. The event also featured the likes of Mr. Sanatan Dinda, an artist with paintings staged in Buckingham Place and big corporate offices, and Mr. Dibyendu Barau, a chess player having represented India successfully in international forum and with notable accolades, inspiring the children with their words of wisdom. Besides, the Deputy Commissioner of Police (Traffic) of Kolkata, Mr. Verghese Kunjachan also motivated the kids with his pragmatic speech. We also had an efficient advocate of law amidst us in Ms. Radhika Misra, who with her insightful words encouraged children to follow their dreams and work diligently, ad infinitum, to achieve the same. Each guest was facilitated with a flower vase. The interactive session also provided a platform for children to ask these guests pertinent questions and render some clarity in their perceptions. All in all, the guests as well as the hosts successfully stroke a harmonious chord with the children.
Joi de vivre!
Curtains were drawn on the event when the Thank You plaques were distributed among the guests and few eminent persons of the CRY. The event which commenced at 10.30 in the morning concluded when the clock ticked 5 in the evening. Even as dusk approached, the children still exuded the same level of energy, exuberance and vigor that was palpable at the beginning of the day. The evergreen gleam and the unblemished smiles on those wonderful faces bore testimony to the satisfaction they derived from Aashayein. At the same time, these kids promised to be the ambassadors, the guardians and the protectors of environment from henceforth.
All CRY volunteers who worked tirelessly for this mega event deserve an exultant applause of approbation. In addition, special thanks must be given to Ola cabs who very benevolently offered transport at a discount for the children to travel to and fro. Contributions by refreshment partners Mio Amore, who provided breakfast packets for children, and Bailey, who provided water jars, was also noteworthy and pivotal. A huge Thank You to the Indian Museum in general and Mr. Sayan Bhattacharjee, the museum education officer, in particular, for providing us with all the requisite arrangements and an effervescent ambience for the cordial conduct of the event.
Well, for a customary conclusion of the article, I would like to thank CRY (and its stakeholders as well!) for giving each one of us the chance to be a part of such an awe-inspiring and memorable day.
By Raghav Mehra
There is no denying to the fact that, children are always very close to the playgrounds, creating innumerable memories at their tender age. Vacations always bring in picture of children playing about the fields and spending good childhood days. But this was not the case for a few fun loving children of Howrah district of West Bengal.
In the Panchanatala district of Howrah, there lay a playground, quite frequently inhabited by the cheerful, enthusiastic children. There was a wide drain separating the playground and the road. Children as we know always have a tendency to look for fun and frolic and this desire of theirs often lead to trouble for the parents. In a fit of trying out something new, they used to jump off the road, making their way to the ground and hence not using the long way to reach into the grounds.
Some of them while doing this plunged into the drains, nearly drowning themselves until this became quite common in Panchanatala and news about it started getting into the ears of the people around who urged the councilor to do something about the increasing nuisance.
The matter got serious and still there were not any efforts from the councilor. When the active volunteers of CRY(child Rights and You), Kolkata involved with activities in Howrah came to know of this, they approached the ward councilor again to make him realize the urgency of the matter and with their attempts were successful in creating a wall/fencing around the playground so as to stop the children from any injuries.
— Written By Ayush Chowdhury.
It was around a year ago, while the sessions were being conducted by the CRY volunteers at Rajabazar that they noticed a boy of around 15 years with eager eyes but a wan body. As the volunteers took sessions to enable children to avail the rights guaranteed to them as well as interact with the kids he used to sit in a corner with his brother and showed great enthusiasm in the sessions. Very often, the boy used to complain about his deteriorating health, red patches and blisters caused allover his palms and feet caused as a result of working with hazardous chemicals in the soap factory where he worked at.
Murad is a slum dweller of Rajabazar, Kolkata in his early teenage. He lives with his parents and a younger brother in a single roomed shelter, simply not enough to accommodate all the members at the same time and the so the members take turns to sleep. Murad’s father drives an auto while his mother works as a domestic servant to feed the family. The traumatic and grief-stricken living conditions had forced Murad to work in a soap factory in the day and prepare animal cages with the help of his brother at night to add up to their life savings somehow. The pathetic situation in which their family was living and deprivation of ordinary possession could be seen from the fact that the entire family does not have any birth certificate. This probably means they do not have ration-cards to avail basic amenities at subsidized rates. The economic condition of the family never allowed Murad to get medical aid for his worsening health.
The urgency of the situation and immediate crisis of the case were brought up by CRY volunteers who took initiative and made efforts to admit Murad in Rajabazar Science College and R.G Kar University where he got free treatment. The Doctors treating Murad unexpectedly found that his IQ is less than average person’s IQ level i.e. less than 90.
This did not end here. Though many institute turned him down because of the fact that he does not have a birth certificate or any pre-schooling experience, CRY volunteers have been relentlessly trying to admit Murad to some special institute or School where his needs would be catered.
At CRY the volunteers are trying to bridge the gap and find concrete solution to the atrocities faced by children like Murad can make best out of their childhood.
–Monami choudhary & Ayush Chowdhury
On a Sunday morning, I would usually luxuriate myself on a comfortable chair with hot tea tickling my taste buds. And on the 15thof May too, I experienced a tickle- a tickle of sweat, of prickly heat and of bubbling determination down my mind, body and soul, as I joined CRY volunteers in setting up health camps in Howrah.
As we gathered near Howrah Maidan in ward no. 19 of the town amidst the scorching heat, it was comforting to notice the innumerable smiles that greeted us as we began work.
Joie de vivre!
The volunteers had gathered in numbers with 10 volunteers from the Public Outreach Team and 9 from Howrah PAG participating in one of the many massive health camps that CRY had put up. And to corroborate and consolidate our cause, 7 doctors joined us and spearheaded a plethora of medical tests on children comprising dental and eye check-ups, ENT and nutrition intake et al.
As the kids, accompanied by their parents, beat the heat and made a beeline in front of the doctor’s desks before eventually completing the health screening, they were handed out butter milk packets and hygiene kits. Special mention must be given to Belle Vue clinic for providing us with requisite number of hygiene kits. From a local school in which the entire segment of testing took place, the kids took their kits to enjoy skits!
The sessions and skits about proper application of medicines and about the dos and the don’ts took place in the club adjacent to the school. Spanning over four hours, four hours of utmost dedication, simmering temperatures and countless children joining the event as the afternoon progressed, this event concluded with the distribution of food packets to the volunteers and doctors.
I could not have been more pleased and enriched with my and my co-volunteers’ action as I was on this day. Attendance of almost 150 children bore an encouraging testimony to the satisfaction that children derived from such a benevolent and an avant-garde movement by CRY!
And this article is more of a Thank You to the organization than a mandatory report on it’s work!
On the 11th of April, 2016 a group of people in bright yellow T-shirts gathered in Park Street, Jadavpur University, Presidency University and Heritage Institute of Technology. The Sun was scorching, the heat unbelievable, and the people even more so. As one of the coordinating members of the event I was rather nervous of what the outcome was going to be.
Bake for CRY had not been an easy event to plan. It involved so many people! Bakers, sellers, CRY volunteers- debates, difference of opinions, clashing ideas- Yet, here we were with stalls put up in colleges and corporate offices, cakes, cupcakes, cookies in boxes, attitude modified, smile slapped on and absolutely ready to Carpe diem!
It wasn’t an easy task of course, selling baked goods to absolute strangers in the scorching heat, but no questions were asked, no complaints were heard, and at the sound of the ripping of the receipt from the receipt books smiles were exchanged, like tiny celebrations of selflessness.
The buyers too were quite generous. Some even refused the cupcakes and handed their donation over like random blessing to our children. And then of course there were some that openly mocked the whole idea. Well, no one ever said the right path is meant to be easy. “What I can do. I must do.” So we did what we could. The bakers shed some sweat and baked in numbers of 20, 50 and even 100. The CRY volunteers picked the baked goods up and did all in their power to keep the baked goods fresh until the next day. The sellers endured not the just heat but also the ridicule of some people. And all of that resulted in a massively successful volunteer initiative! And that was all CRY could ask for!
This post is less of an update and more of a Thank you letter to all those who took this event and made it so huge! Thank you for your generosity, love and hard work! CRY thanks you and we thank CRY!
CRY East volunteers reached out to around 600 children residing Kolkata slums and their parents through a day long medical camp. The 2 week Health campaign was conducted in Rajabazar and Dhakuria. The doctors for the medical check-ups belonged to R.G. Kar Medical College, Kolkata.
In both the locations, the event generated a lot of community support and curiosity. Community campaigning was done a week prior to the medical camps. The campaigning was also accompanied by the volunteers discussing with the community members the need for greater focus on health.
This health camp also brought an exposure to the children who could meet a new set of people and professionals. Parents were made aware of the necessities of regular health check up of their children. The children who came to the medical camp also got a platform to learn about the importance of education and good health.
CRY Volunteers conducted a half-day Health awareness drive in Dhakuria. Done as a part of a month long Health and Hygiene campaign in the locality by CRY Volunteers, the event saw the active support of the local councilor and other administrative authorities.
Large number of children with their parents came for the event, where through audio visuals and interactive sessions basic do’s and don’ts of health and hygiene practices were discussed.
CRY volunteers also shared their findings of the status of child health and sanitation that emerged through the recent survey undertaken in the area. The sharing of the survey helped clear several community misconceptions.
The entire event ended with a lively nukkad natak performed by CRY Volunteers.
Tremendous positive response from the community, the local authorities and the children assured that a lot more can be done collectively.
A huge positive support was received by CRY IIT Volunteers at the popular and much awaited Annual Springfest hosted by IIT-Kharagpur each year. Amidst all the celebration and competition the CRY stall at the campus aroused curiosity and interest amongst students not only from the campus but from various participating colleges.
The screening of CRY’s video at the event made many more students ask about child rights. The signature campaign to pledge support for child rights received large support where students and the faculty members came forward. ‘I will act to protect and promote child rights whichever way possible now and even in days to come’, said Vivek Jha one of the key volunteers who organized the event on behalf of CRY in the campus.
Volunteers brought in a professional doctor who interacted with project children in Howrah. Done as a part of the positive role model session, children were motivated to be hopeful, to dream and not give up in difficult times.
The doctor also counseled the children on healthy habits and simple ways to prevent diseases.
East celebrates International Volunteers Day
CRY East celebrated international volunteers day with zeal. Done with the theme of reviving the ‘child In You’, all the volunteers came dressed as children. Through various fun games and interactions, everyone was taken back to the times when they were children, their experience helped them understand how essential it is for one to keep that little child alive in one’s heart always. Childhood and it’s significance in an individual’s life was re instated.
2016 started on a joyous note. CRY Volunteers working in Howrah region of West Bengal , have been working with the community as well as with the local administration and school authorities. While there are quite many children who are either school drop outs, absence of schools close to the community or poor conditions of the schools acts as a discouraging factor.
During their work with children and undertaking a survey in September 2015, volunteers came across Harijan Vidya Mandir located nearby.
The school had a thatched only one room with 2 teachers where multiple classes were being held simultaneously. It took 3 months of continuous back and forth meetings with the local authorities and initiate the process of school renovation. By end November the school was completely ready with pucca building, separate classrooms and having an addition of computers for the children. CRY Volunteers were especially invited during the inauguration.
Lalit Mundhra, 26, is one of the key volunteers involved in the process, by profession he’s a Chartered Accountant. ‘During our interactions with the parents and children, when we insisted that the children should continue with their education, we were many times at loss of words, since there was no actual school close to their homes. All of us met several administrative and school authorities to find a solution’.
Pallavi Roy, 22, another CRY volunteer recalls, ‘we are thankful to the principal of one of the schools we work with, helped us identify a one room structure. We never really took notice of this building and thought that it was a local club. Instead, it turned out to be a defunct school’.
Pallavi, Lalit and several other volunteers then took on a journey of making the school functional, having the required resources and support and making the local authorities take action.
The school is now fully functional with increased number of teachers coming in and taking classes. Some of these teachers had taught in the school earlier however, they opted for transfer to other schools due the school’s poor infrastructure.
The local authorities are extremely happy with the volunteers and have in fact asked them to help in recruiting teachers for the school. Having a school, at the heart of the community has in fact encouraged many children to look at education as easily accessible and be regular in schools.
‘Pehle wala school jane mein kariban ek ghanta lagtatha, jiski wajah se hum school chor diye they. Ab ghar se 5 minute ki doori par school ho jane par, hum aram se khud ja saktey hain’, said 10 year old Rahul smilingly.
It was a chilly winter afternoon full of enthusiasm, elation and excitement. Why won’t it be so? It was the starting of a month long health and sanitation celebration in the slums of Dhakuria. It is the first step towards starting of community based intervention on child health and education and introducing the volunteer team to the people and the local authorities. A week long promotion was held where pamphlets were distributed, posters were put up and door to door campaigning was done meticulously. A team of Dhakuria volunteers went for a meeting with the local councilor to seek permission to work in the area. It was through him that the venue for the event was arranged. The team was successful in impressing him and getting themselves a space in the local club for future sessions. The event was scheduled to happen in a school at Dhakuria.
It was 3:00pm. The time had come to see the result of all the hardwork and toil that the volunteers went through. The first guest of the afternoon was the local councilor himself who arrived exactly on time. A small child entered, “I have come Didi” said he with a warm smile. That moment cannot be expressed in words as the volunteers welcomed the child with joy and excitement. Soon after this, people started turning up in large numbers. In no time the room was filled with parents along with their children.
The event kick started with the host welcoming the community people and the guests i.e the local councilor, club vice-president, club secretary and ward president. CRY volunteers felicitated the guests and asked the councilor to speak a few words. He said that he was conversant with the works that CRY had already undertaken in Dhakuria and was highly impressed with their method of work. After briefly communicating to the people about CRY the community discussion was initiated. The discussion was divided into three parts- Child Education, Health and Hygiene. Videos relating to importance of sanitation and cleanliness were shown. The anchors shared the findings of child health survey with the community which was heard by the parents attentively.
Some striking findings like only 58% of the city children have received immunization and 27% of the parents are aware of their child’s malnutrition were discussed. The discussion was an interactive one where people showed great enthusiasm in asking questions. They shared their feelings about conditions of government schools and provisions their children are entitled to.
Finally the most awaited Nukkad Natak started, “Ao Bacho Suno Kahani…” to which people clapped metrically. It portrayed daily habits and practices related to nutrition, sanitation and education. Jingles like “Khane se pehle sada hath dhona”, “Brishtir jole mosha holo out of control” made the play more interesting and captivating for the audience. The kids enjoyed it thoroughly. The Natak ended with claps and cities gallore. The volunteers were highly successful in initiating a good rapport with the community. They announced their future plans to the parents which included interesting Sunday sessions and free Health check-up of slum children in the following weeks.
What took everyone by surprise was even after the program ended the crowd did not disperse. They were still conversing with the volunteers about their needs and aspirations for their child and that they have high hopes from the organization. The first New Year Sunday was probably the best one for the team. The day left the volunteers highly contented and the community interested in being a part of upcoming volunteer activities. A child slowly whispered into one of the member’s ear “Thank You! We never had a Sunday as Fun as this one” and left.
Bela*, 12 is one among the many children who attend the children’s sessions organized by CRY volunteers working in the Howrah region of West Bengal. The sessions with children attempt to not just inform the children regarding their rights but also at the same time encourage them into taking steps towards protecting themselves.
For the past several months, Bela seemed unusually quiet and though she came for the session, she barely spoke. Her body language too was withdrawn.
Among other sessions that volunteers organise, a special session on the issue of girl child safety was undertaken. The interactive session aimed towards getting a more accurate picture of the status of their safety and their experiences. With the problem of eve teasing rampant in the region many girls of the children’s group complained of the same. While many complained about being subjected to lewd remarks, Bela, broke down.
For several months now, Bela had to go and return from tuitions alone. It gets quite late and dark when she returns. Every time there is a group of local boys, passing comments, making advances and inappropriate touched her. ‘No matter how much I covered myself, how much I walked around in simple oversized salwar kameez, nothing helped’, Bela recounted.
One day, while she was returning, one of the boys held her hand and tried to drag her away. Bela screamed and with all the power she had pushed off the boy and ran off.
She tried to tell her parents but didn’t know how. ‘Every time I wanted to speak to my mother or father they either said they’re too tired or that they are busy. I even told them that you don’t care about me and my mother said I’m very rude. I really didn’t know how to make them listen to me and I struggled for months’, she says.
For 3 months Bela took a route back home from tuitions that took her double the time and yet she didn’t mind. ‘I didn’t want to give up my studies because of such men. I was determined to continue with my studies no matter what’.
After hearing Bela’s experience, the volunteers motivated her to try and speak to her parents assertively one final time, not be shy but be honest about what she’s going through. Various ways through which she can approach and convince her parents to support her.
Post the session, volunteers had to undertake regular follow up visits. Bela did share her problems to her parents and her ordeal. Her parents this time were concerned and personally thanked the volunteers, ‘we somehow overlooked this all along, but really , thanks for ringing the warning bell at the right time’, her father said.
Bela is now accompanied by her father, on her way back from tuitions. Other members of the community too are now aware and have taken the responsibility of personally looking into the safety of their girls.
It’s a first step, yet a significant one to begin with. The entire incident has encouraged many more girls from the community to share their problems and in feeling safer in a more supportive environment.
*Name changed to protect the identity of the child
Why are the children not going to school?
A discussion on scenario of student-teacher atmosphere in villages of Kharagpur
It is the time that we realize the discrepancy in expectation and reality of the preliminary education system in the society. When we want kids to go to school, they also must know what they should look forward to
The unsatisfactory quality of elementary education has been a serious concern for India at the least for the last four decades. Many quality improvement programmes have been devised and implemented at State and national levels; but they all left the quality lower than they found it. The access in terms of children attending the schools has certainly improved. But it is mainly due to increased awareness of parents and various incentives given to children.
Kharagpur, an important industrial town in Paschim Medinipur district of West Bengal, is a multi-cultural and cosmopolitan town. Even though a large number of industrial plants and the biggest Railway colony in India are located in and around the town, the quality of life in rural areas of Kharagpur is really distressing. In such demanding conditions, the only hope which the community can have is its education system.
People in the villages usually come from poor sections of society and struggle for earning a living. In our surveys in villages, we have found children dropping out of schools to work in small shops and in many cases just to sit at home. Their parents, after somehow arranging money to send them to schools, have finally failed to motivate them. The village-atmosphere is such that children do not see any benefit in going to schools as they lack quality education. It’s quite awful that even students of class 4th and 5th are dropping out.
What is even more distressing is that it being written as description, when it must be asked as a question. Why are the children not going to school? What is the wrong with the present education system in villages?
The quality education
The problems in the village education system are merely the replication of the major problems with the Indian education system as a whole, the distinction being in their affect.
The vital aspect of quality are the twin problems in the education system— one, the plague of rote learning devoid of understanding; two, the disconnect between education and life.
Israel Scheffler, the well-known American philosopher of education while discussing teacher’s control over learning wrote: “It is where his control ends that his fondest hopes for education begin.” The education, as it is implemented in the classrooms today, does not provide scope for creativity and independence.
We have found many young people who left their studies after class 8th and started working for a living. Their reason was plain and simple— “when we can earn by working at canteens, why to waste time and money”.
The children coming from these villages observe their limited society everyday and realize the lack of strength of their classroom courses in helping them to compete for a livelihood. The conventional bookish knowledge incoherent with their lives is insufficient to bind them to classrooms.
The third, an essential aspect of pedagogy for meaningful education, is the child’s right to “meaning making” and confidence in the truth of what is learnt. This confidence cannot rest on the authority of the textbook or the teacher. It has to be cognitively earned by the child through constructing her own justifications for what she learns. In our zeal for teaching everything as fast as possible we bypass the creative processes of justification that makes confidence and relevance possible.
Preparedness of the system
Is the prevalent education system prepared to take forward quality understood in this larger sense? No. Work has to be done towards this preparedness. Some of the most important aspects of this preparedness could be identified as below.
We have to face the truth that the prevalent educational system in the village does not create an effective learning environment for a child. The educational programmes have never seriously tried to achieve a clear and convincing enough understanding of what one tries to achieve through education. It always has been a rhetoric of larger aims and theoretical knowledge. We are prone to see the failure of the education system in the lack of practical skills. Courses however well taught, usually do not answer the question “why” and, therefore, do not generate conviction and commitment — essential ingredients in good teaching. There is a reasonable unexplored possibility that adequate understanding of and conviction in the “why” along with guidance in teaching skills may produce a variety of viable methods.
In concrete terms, a student has to have a range of activities. This will involve practical activities, the use of materials, and connecting with small experiments. It will also demand an understanding of the subject in terms of its content, epistemology and rationale in the curriculum. And it is very necessary here that students must be realized the potential opportunities available to them through learning. It will necessarily involve elucidating the aims of education, the need for education in an individual’s life and in social life; a convincing dream of a desirable society and living a satisfactory life. And situating oneself and the child in this dream to keep that hope alive.
What kind of curricular content and institutional experiences will develop these qualities is what will have to be worked out seriously, with care and in detail. It seems that without these capabilities, education is unlikely to have any effect on the children. We do not just want children to go to school, but to learn; and to instill a sense of confidence in the young generation of India.
CRY volunteers in Kolkata undertook a survey covering over 300 urban slum households regarding the status of the health services rendered to their children. The experience of the survey was enriching enough to make them spend hours under the sun. Here is what some of them felt –
‘I have worked on this project for almost a month and it has indeed been a learning experience for me. The survey gave me the opportunity to understand the lives of those people I was not much acquainted with till about a year back. Initially, I was quite apprehensive about how the family members we interacted with, would react. However, soon enough, I was able to build a rapport with them and was able to conduct the survey with much ease. Instead of sympathy, the experience arouses in me a lot of respect for these families, that going beyond all the hardships, they are able to live life with much happiness and hope that someday they would be able to make expectations, dreams and reality meet.’ – Paroma Mukherjee
‘Despite having hardly any health facilities, we found people still hopeful, as if waiting that something still might happen. Despite not knowing us, they spoke to us, all along hoping that this might yield some results. Somewhere I felt so helpless too and the urgent need to do something for change’ – Deepabali Dasgupta
‘This was my second week and already many people knew me. When I slipped and hurt my arm, the community members cleaned my wound and put medicine on it. Amazing! I wonder if the same would’ve happened in my locality’ – Rajdeep Taluckdar
CRY – Tezpur University student volunteers along with the faculty members celebrated the Independence Day this year with children from nearby villages.
The event, held at the university campus saw children from nearby villages coming together and putting up cultural events of dance and music. The student volunteers helped them by playing background music and setting up the stage. Overall 400 students from the campus participated in the celebration.
Interesting videos on child rights and child education were screened, followed by an interaction between the children and the students present. Children shared their views, dreams and aspirations. The event left behind a feeling of patriotism and the will to impact positively in the lives of children of the nation.
The faculty members supported and were positive about the newly initiated chapter. Some of their responses were –
‘I am very glad to be a part of this Chapter in the University. I believe our students can bring a change which is ever lasting’ – Mr. Debashish Mohapatra, faculty advisor of CRY-Tezpur University Chapter.
‘It is good that the students are making good use of their free time and working towards a noble cause. I am highly touched’ – D.C. Baruah, Dean of Student’s Welfare, Tezpur University
‘I am highly satisfied by the efforts of the students thus far. I believe that this Chapter would actually be able to make a difference. Best wishes’ – Dr. M.K.Chaudhuri, Vice Chancellor, Tezpur University
Hope that this newly initiated CRY volunteer chapter grows in days to come!
Manisit Sil, a 4th year student of B.Tech in Electronics and Communication, Heritage Institute of Technology, talks about his experience as a Child Rights Leader. CRY is looking for passionate college students who are driven by the need to play a significant role to bring positive change in the lives of underprivileged children across India. Do you know someone who fits the bill? Share this link with them – http://bit.ly/1LMVPzG Inspire them to be a leader!
AASHAYEIN : A day-long celebration of childhood and hope in Kolkata
CRY Kolkata Volunteers working in the urban slums of the city, namely Rajabazar, Howrah and Dhakuria regions, came together on 21st of June at the Indian Museum for celebrating a day filled with laughter, learning and experience sharing.
The events aimed at inspiring the children and looked forward to have a face to face interaction with their role models. Ninety students took part in this programme.
The day began with the children engaging themselves in an hour-long yoga session. On the occasion of International Yoga Day, this seemed more apt and children enjoyed the session!
The rest of the day was spent in the zoology and history sections of the Indian Museum.
In the evening, the huge museum courtyard was used to conduct the positive role model session. Well known personalities came together to inspire the children. Bengali artists like Saheb Chatterjee, Koneenica Banerjee and popular singer Nipabithi Ghosh shared their life experiences, the challenges they faced and encouraged them never to give up one’s dreams to be an achiever. Many children also used this platform to ask questions to their favourite role models.
With 12th of June being World Day Against Child Labour, on 14th of June, CRY Volunteers working in the Howrah region of West Bengal organized a high decibel community event to generate greater awareness on child labour, to motivate community members into taking preventive action and bring in the support of the local government in the process.
The event comprised of-
- Discussion with parents of the children and community members on child labour. Public opinion, individual’s notions and the legal aspect was discussed.
- Cultural event where children performed dance, sang songs and had series of elocution
- The Ward Councilor came to show his support, he interacted with the children and urged the parents to ensure that their children go to school and not work
- A well known Taekwondo club promised to provide self defence classess to children and the councilor promised to provide space where these classess will be undertaken
The event ended with all the children taking the pledge to not start working before they complete their studies.
CRY has been shortlisted as a Finalist in Leader in Volunteer Engagement Category – iVolunteer Awards 2015
A prestigious award ceremony conducted annually, iVolunteer aims to to bring together organisations and volunteers which promote the spirit of volunteering which ultimately help bring about change in India .Organisations are recognised for bringing to the masses the opportunity for volunteering and spreading through their programmes skill and target based work .
Each of us volunteers at CRY believe strongly in the work we do and the opportunities presented to us through its volunteering program and hope that with the support of impact and change created and the visibility of our positive work together goes far far ahead .
Do Join in and Support Us !
Read on to know more about Rituparna’s exciting journey with CRY at:
While the whole world observed WORLD HEALTH DAY on April 7th, CRY Kolkata volunteers, celebrated it with Health and Hygiene awareness week that concluded with a Health camp for 105 children from Bellilious Lane of Howrah region. Children came in with their parents for free checkup at the health camp organised by the Howrah PAG who work in close affinity with these children.
The health camp was set up at a local school premise, willingly offered by the Ward councilor, where 5 doctors of RG KAR Medical College and one from R Ahmed Dental College namely Dr. Debjit Dhar Chowdhury, Dr. Chayan Chakraborty, Dr. Soumit Roy, Dr. Animesh Ghosh, Dr. Arghya Maity and Dr. Ajay Manickam along with volunteers from the RG Kar Medical college took upon themselves the onus of making this noble event a successful one.
The children of all ages underwent a thorough body checkup under the watchful eyes of their parents and the doctors made sure to give individual attention and care to each one of them, some of whom were diagnosed with certain diseases and were prescribed medicines and also guidance were given to them and their parents to maintain oral and overall hygiene. At the end of the checkup, each of the kids was given 2 bananas keeping their health and nutrition in mind.
A special CRY Fun corner was arranged specifically for the little ones to make sure that the children do not miss out on their share of fun. After the checkup, the children were taken to the FUN corner where games like Identify the Object, Word Puzzles and Maths Mystery kept them busy. Special prizes were kept for those who won all the games and many bright children managed to bag all the prizes and went home beaming with joy.
“I really liked the health camp and I want this to happen again. I was given advice on oral hygiene. I won a color pencil set too after winning all the games”- chirped in a 9 year old when he was asked about his experience.The parents were equally satisfied and happy as their kids were treated well and various ailments were brought to their notice which they were unaware about. They showed eagerness to join hands on any such future programmes of CRY.
Not only the parents but other community members encouraged and appreciated the camp. The owner of a nearby tea stall sent free tea for everyone without being asked. ‘Aap log itna accha kam kar rahein hain, to ek cup chai to hum aap sab ko pila hi saktey hain’, said the owner with smile.
The campaign would not have been possible without the support of the doctors and the medical student volunteers of R.G.Kar Medical College who took out time from their schedule to come forward and show their support.
– Dipsha Ghosh
CRY Kolkata Volunteer
Computer – the genie of 21st century is on the wish-list of every child. But only few get the opportunity to use it. Especially in a place like India where basic facilities like electricity and water supply take years to develop, computer finds a place only in the textbooks. On the contrary, the electronic media has grown to colossal scale over the years without effectively touching the grassroots. To bridge this gap, it is necessary to provide the children with a minimum amount of proficiency in computer-skills so that it helps them in the future.
Based on this concept of spreading computer literacy, the School Monitoring team of CRY Kolkata Volunteers (working in Dhakuria, ward 92) launched the Computer Literacy Programme in Chopolamoyee Sishu Sikha Bhavan back in December 2014. The old computers were reconfigured and useful softwares were installed. A module was also prepared for assisting the teachers in carrying on the course along with the regular classes. This initial success gave the volunteers courage to expand to more schools.
Though initially there were roadblocks in expanding the programme, permission was finally granted by the local authorities for its inception in another school. The hunt for bringing in a computer for the school, free of cost started. Various companies, potential individual donors to computer shops selling the same were explored. It took, several months to get one completely free computer, in good condition for the school. Finally, one of the stores, that sold computers and repaired them too, was interested and donated the computer to the school. The computer was in perfect condition and looked almost new.
On 8thApril, 2015 this computer was installed at Adarsh Paying Primary school, Dhakuria. The whole process of getting the computer in proper working condition to the final installation was done solely by the volunteers without any external support.
The children and teachers, were excited about having a computer in their school. For many teachers, this was the first time they were operating a computer. ‘Now I’ll also know how to work on a computer, like the other children I’ve seen’, said a tiny Class IV student. The hope and eagerness on her face made every effort worth it. The reaction of the students showed what a big difference just one computer can create.
The success at Adarsh has given the volunteers new confidence to spread the programme throughout the locality in the days to come.
CRY Kolkata Volunteer.
On World Health Day, CRY Kolkata Volunteers started off with their campaign on heath, hygiene and nutrition. The main focus of this campaign is to look into the healthy living of the children in view of the recent diseases and infections spreading around.
Keep checking the blog for more posts related to this campaign!
“The beginning to a new story of change written by CRY Howrah volunteers”
CRY Volunteers working in Bellilious Lane of Howrah region, Kolkata have been closely interacting with the community children and their parents since last year, 2014.
Through a detailed community survey, the group understood the specifics of child rights issues/problems that currently exist. The team, further, looped in the local authorities such as the councilor, the Ward Education Secretary and the local school authorities. This was done with the purpose of addressing child rights violations and to initiate the process of making the government more active and accountable to the people. The problem of child labour, school drop outs and many children not going to school was found to be a common phenomenon.
Volunteers started conducting weekly sessions with children where educational games, interesting learning videos, discussions, crafts, dance and singing songs were done. The purpose was to reinstate the value and importance of learning and going to school, motivate the children to dream and be ambitious. They also interacted with the parents and built a strong community rapport. Lack of awareness or interest from the parents too many a times made the situation worse.
Many children, who came for the sessions, were either school drop outs or never went to school. Most were engaged in paid work at factories.
A careful scan of the area was made, a list of government schools was prepared and meetings were conducted with the authorities to find the procedure for readmission of the children. Apart from school officials, the volunteers also got in touch with the Ward Education Secretary, the School Inspector of the circle and the Chairman of Education of Howrah district.
Then started the toughest job of all, convincing-not only the parents but some of the children too. After several denials, dismissals and disappointments, the volunteers finally succeeded in changing their perspective and making them realize the importance of education.
Repeated home visits, personally talking to the parents and schools finally started showing results, when 10 children were re-enrolled in schools in January 2015. While 5 have already joined, another 5 will begin from April 2015.
‘Humney socha nahin tha ki humari beti phir se school ja sakegi’ (we never thought our daughter will go to school again), says the mother of 10 year old Rina[i], as her daughter packed her bag.
[i] Name changed to maintain child confidentiality
[CRY Kolkata volunteers focused on heath and hygiene related issues this week. They assessed various health related problems faced by the children in India. Recently, Swine Flu has created much fear among the population. The threat seems to increase more day by day. Shimoyee is a medical student who was much eager to share her views and how we could avoid being a victim of it. Read more to know what she writes on this issue.]
One of the health issues that is gaining urgency in the recent days is the swine influenza. Also called swine flu, pig influenza or hog flu, this pandemic was first diagnosed in Mexico in the spring of 2009 and went on to affect almost every corner of the world. Although it was declared to be officially over by the WORLD HEALTH ORGANISATION in August, 2010, there has been an outbreak in India recently with over 25,000 people being tested positive and a death count of 1370 until March, 2015.
Among the infected, children mostly under the age of 5 constitute a major portion. It is so because these children do not possess a well developed immune system to tackle the influenza virus and hence are most susceptible to it. Children with chronic ailments like asthma, heart disease, diabetes run higher risks of contracting flu related complications.
People who work with poultry and swine, especially those with intense exposures, are at increased risk. Human to human transmission occurs when the infected person sneezes or coughs and other people breathe in the virus or touch something with the virus on it and then touch their own face.
Symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, body ache, headaches, chills and fatigue. These symptoms are quite similar to the general influenza. Hence, an individual showing such symptoms should get himself tested for the virus.
To prevent the virus from affecting our system, we must ensure proper hygiene. One must frequently wash one’s hands with soap or any alcohol based sanitizer.
Household surfaces should be regularly disinfected and kept clean using diluted chlorine bleach solution. Staying away from infected people is also a good way of preventing the further spread of the disease. This can be done by wearing face masks as well. Apart from these measures, one can also get oneself vaccinated so that the immune system is better equipped to tackle the virus.
Let’s not forget, prevention is always better than cure!
– Shrimoyee Roy.
CRY Kolkata Volunteer.
Read on to know more about Rituparna’s exciting journey with CRY at:
This Republic Day weekend saw a flout of colours in the well known marketplace of Dakshinapan on 24th January, 2015 as the children of Railway Colony and Gobordanga celebrated their annual cultural event-Think Free. This year the celebration being extra special due to the event coinciding with the auspicious day of Saraswati Puja .
The event is the mutual celebration of the latent talent of the children and the unprecedented efforts of the volunteers of the Dhakuria PAG. The event is held with much pomp and show where the children put their best foot forward in performances like dancing, singing and reciting poems.
The girls caught the attention of the people by putting adorable foot-tapping dance performances. Recitations won equal applauds from the audience as the children graced them with their loveable voices and often with innocent fumbles.
The programme concluded with a song performance where all the children and the volunteers sang ‘Purono Sheyi Diner Kawtha’, only to be joined later by all the people present at the venue. Many people from the audience got emotional and many were curious to know more about CRY and the way one can volunteer with the organization.
Think Free, aims to give the children the perfect platform to showcase their talent and create greater awareness amongst the public regarding child rights and the fact that everyone can play a positive role in creating an impact in the lives of children.
One of the volunteers recalls, ‘we felt like proud parents of the children while they performed’. While many parents of the children who performed felt that their children should be given the opportunity to express themselves and be a part of activities that really interest them.
The event also saw 2 Law students, also CRY supporters- Kousheyo with Prantik doing a violin recital and a simultaneous narration on the issue of child rights and the need for people to come forward.
With approximately 200 people reached and many cheering on as the performances continued, the event turned out to be a huge source of encouragement for the children, they felt energized and confident at the end of the day.
Surely, a very bright start to 2015 with the hope that there’ll be more in store !
CRY Kolkata Volunteer
Photographs by CRY Kolkata Volunteers