20 April 2020

Child Rights are Human Rights, and Dear Children, We care for you! These were the focus of a series of training programmes and publicity campaigns during the first week of November at Don Bosco Navajeevan, Hyderabad. These included the Hub level training for HLK-ChildMISS, Human Rights Education for government school teachers and the release of posters and T-Shirts for the Child Safety Net Campaign.

Seventeen Child Rights Activists had a 3-day advanced training programme from 5th to 7th November on the web application www.childmiss.net. Last year the efforts had been on entering relevant data on children we contact in our work. After having gone through the hassles of struggling with the alpha and beta versions of the application, we could now see the results of our hard work during the past year. The application is now running smoothly and the participants are clear about the flow of the programme.

Working on the data available, the participants started generating different reports about the type of children who come to us, their needs and the various services that we could offer them. The data generated offers itself for analysis of the situation of children that we are in contact with. The preliminary data for the year covers about 4000 children. The participants became very enthused when the monotonous data was converted into excel spreadsheets or illustrations, and exciting power point presentations. They included the Node Directors as well as the Node Coordinators, and their collaborators. Fr. Joe Prabhu and Mr. Austin Francis guided the hands-on training process along with Mr. Bolleddu Sudhakar, the Hub Coordinator of AP and TS.

While the training programme on the web application was going on, Fr. Thomas Pallithanam from the People’s Action for Rural Awakening, Ravulapalem and his team launched the Human Rights Education (HRE) for Telangana State. This is a programme in collaboration with the State Education Department. This was the first of a series of training programmes involving teachers of Telangana State.

The training programme was a very adventurous journey with the teachers having so many doubts about the need, possibility and the realisation of a shift from the teacher oriented education to the child focussed education. These senior teachers present had all volunteered to take up Human Rights Education in addition to their routine duties.

Their enthusiasm overflowed into their willingness to look at their life with children from the new perspective, starting all over from the side of the children. They saw the participation of children in the process, particularly through the formation of Child Rights Clubs, as the way forward. They were willing to make their district and their city a Child Friendly District and City. Their campaign for Child Safety Net would link their schools with the local community, families of children and a peoples’ movement. The Dalit Bahujan Shramik Union that was having their Executive Committee meeting at the time met the teachers and have agreed to evolve a common action plan for the participation the communities in the school neighbourhoods along with Mr. Ambedkar, the HRE coordinator for Ranga Reddy District.

The excitement of the teachers was palpable seeing the Navajeevan children around. They would the children in the various departments or talk to them in the play ground whenever they had free time. During one of the sessions a teacher had remarked, “Child Rights will be forgotten when they are up to mischief. How do you expect us to keep our cool?” Mr. Job, the trainer, remarked, “You appreciate the work at Navajeevan. See how they manage so many children who have left home and took shelter on the streets? Now it is your turn to manage the children in your class who have their parents.”

The week was also very special for us with the entire Youth Pastoral Team of South Asia together with Fr. Fabio Attard paying us a visit on 3rd November. We took the chance to invite the Salesian Youth workers to join us in the campaign for child rights and Human Rights Education. Oota, the Provincial Centre for Psycho-Social Services facilitated the various interactions. The campaign materials such the T-Shirts with Child Rights Slogans and the poster on Child Safety Net attracted the attention of all, particularly the teachers.