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INDIA: Salesian missionaries provide child rights education to prevent and rescue children from child labor

(MissionNewswire) Salesian missionaries offer child rights education programs to help youth at-risk of child labor and other exploitation through the CREAM project (Child Rights Education and Action Movement – Action Movement and Education on Rights of Children). This project is sponsored by the Office of Development of the Province of Bangalore (BREADS – Bangalore Rural Education and Development Society).

The International Labour Organization’s World Report on Child Labour in 2015 noted that one in every 11 children in India is working. Fifty-six percent of the working adolescents are no longer studying and 70 percent of those in hazardous conditions are not studying.

The Salesian-run BREADS has been on a mission to identify, rescue and rehabilitate youth at risk, those who have grown up on the streets and those who have been forced into child labor. The organization provides counseling and guidance to extremely vulnerable youth. Through projects for youth at-risk, Salesian missionaries have aimed to include more and more under-aged children in education, guidance and literacy. BREADS has rescued and/or prevented more than 2,600 children in child labor since 2012.

One of the most successful projects that help both with prevention and identification of youth engaged in child labor is the CREAM project, which has educated more than 100,000 children about their rights through 907 special clubs and courses offered in schools across India.

The project was initiated in December 2012 in order to reach the most disadvantaged children in 10 districts in the Indian state of Karnataka, especially in high risk urban rural areas. The goal was to work with youth to build a culture of protection of children’s rights. The project also puts a strong emphasis on improving the potential of minors as well as ensuring the sustainability of activities and results.

“Youth in every region and in every culture around the globe are entitled to basic human rights,” says Father Mark Hyde, director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Through educational programming, the Salesians fight tirelessly each day to make sure the voices of marginalized youth are heard and accounted for. This program will help to enhance this work and make sure every child knows his or her human rights and is able to become a part of the development process.”

Kumar was a native of Chimangera village located in the Kalburgi district in the northern part of Karnataka. He was 10 years old and had dropped out of school in the fifth grade. His parents were uneducated and worked in the brick kilns unit. The family migrated from Chimangera village to Kalaburgi in search of jobs. Kumar and his family didn’t have a house of their own and were living in poverty. The owner of the unit gave the family a place to live, which was a temporary tenement.  As a result of the family’s situation, Kumar’s parents neglected him and were even reluctant to provide him proper food and basic clothing.

Children from the nearby CREAM center told their teacher about Kumar’s situation and passed the information to the toll-free number of Childline at 1098. As per the information received by them, the labour department, Department of Health, NCLP, Education, Police and CREAM staff rescued the child from the brick kilns working site. Kumar went before the Child Welfare Committee and was admitted to the government shelter home for boys for further care and protection.

Another youth, Ramesh, is a native of Basavan Nager Kalaburgi. He was 14 years old and a dropout from a local school after finishing his second grade. Ramesh’s parents are daily wage workers and earn a meagre income. Ramesh had been working in a fast food restaurant and bakery near the bus stand.

During one of the Child Rights Clubs follow up, the members of the Child Rights Club informed the matter to the CREAM social activist. Afterwards the children passed the information to the Childline at 1098, which acted immediately by passing the information to the coordinator, labour department and police. The team immediately arrived at the bakery and the child was rescued. It was made sure that a case is filed against the restaurant owner. As his parents were not able to look and meet Ramesh’s most basic needs, he was admitted to the government boy’s home for shelter and protection.

India has the world’s fourth largest economy but more than 22 percent of the country lives in poverty. About 31 percent of the world’s multi-dimensionally poor children live in India, according to a new report by the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative. A multi-dimensionally poor child is one who lacks at least one-third of 10 indicators, grouped into three dimensions of poverty: health, education and standard of living.



Photo courtesy of BREADS, Don Bosco, Bangalore

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