VCRM four fold activities
FOUR FOLD ACTIVITIES
1. ACTIVITIES FOR FUN AND FELLOWSHIP
ONE DAY PICNICS – A COLOURFUL SCENARIO AT VIDIYAL
Childhood is a wonderful period in life which lasts in the memories of human beings throughout their lives. But many children do not have a pleasant childhood due to various causes including poverty, oppression, social exclusion, abuse, exploitation and other socio-political factors. This affects the holistic development of children to a greater extent. Childhood is a period to celebrate happiness of life, a time to have fun, fellowship, and enjoy the abundance of the world. The street children and slum children seldom get such opportunity to celebrate their childhood. To bridge this gap, picnics and celebrations are made very much part of Vidiyal since its inception. Our children who had negative feelings about life changed their views when exposed to the bounty of nature. It also helps to nurture the value of friendship and humanness. In every quarter children are taken to various places of interest. The plan is made in such a way that if a child enters Vidiyal at the age of 5, he or she would get opportunities to visit 48 places before they complete 18 years. The one day picnics include, nature sites, historical sites and educational and life oriented sites. Children in the sponsorship programme get opportunities to go on educational tours and excursions for a much longer period.
2. ACTIVITIES FOR SELF DEVELOPMENT
TRAINING PROGRAMMES AT VIDIYAL
Once a child enters into Vidiyal, he or she is given lot of opportunities to develop their potential and talents. They are exposed to a wide range of trainings appropriate to their age. These ongoing trainings from the age of 5 to the age of 18 enable the child at each stage to move to the next level and feel confident. Always a participatory, activity based methodology is used in the training programmes. The objectives of these trainings aim at cognitive, affective and psychomotor development in children. Children do enjoy the novel ideas, games and exercises used in the trainings. The staff and volunteers team is given inputs in facilitation skills and whenever possible on the job trainings are conducted for them to enhance their skill and potential. Staff and volunteers anchor most of these trainings and when needed external resource persons are invited to share expertise. According to the need we do convert the trainings into workshops so that the children learn things by intensive practical sessions.
EFFECTIE HANDLING OF ADOLESCENCE
Adolescence is a period of storm and stress. At this crucial stage in life children under go lot of physical changes which result in psychological impacts. They become more concerned about their sexuality. Being born in a conservative society children never get the opportunity to express their concerns, issues and worries related to sex and sexuality. They either burry these feelings underneath or seek answers from exploitative sources, which leads them into vulnerability and further into exploitative situations. The mood swing in them often alienates them from the rest of the world. Culturally there is taboo attached to talking about sex and sexuality. This forces the adolescents to experiment sex secretly. Today in India HIV and AIDS are a big threat to people and children are vulnerable due to their unprotected environment. The child sexual abuse is also on an increase in the society. Keeping this background in mind we adapted a module for the children who enter adolescence. Through participatory sessions children are empowered to protect themselves from unsafe sexual practices. Apart from that we are convinced that each child has the right to reproductive health care which is made possible through imparting scientific knowledge. Children are enabled to handle adolescence effectively with this scientific knowledge and appropriate attitude towards sex and sexuality.
SEXUAL HEALTH INTERVENTION PROGRAMME (SHIP)
Earlier between 1998 and 2010 we had organized sessions on ‘effective handling of adolescence’ and completed 13 batches. Dr. Sharmila handled sessions for the girls and Mr. Jim Jesudoss handled sessions for the boys.
In 2011 we signed a MOU with APSA a Bangalore based voluntary organization to implement SHIP for one year. They trained our staff and volunteers in implementing field tested modules which are exclusively developed for street and slum children who are more vulnerable to sexual abuse at a very early age. We adapted these modules and now designed tailor made Sexual Health Intervention Programme suiting the needs of our children in the present context which is called Vidiyal SHIP. Our staff and volunteers are capacitated with further trainings to anchor the sessions under Vidiyal SHIP.
Our children who enter adolescence (when they complete 12 years of age and reach 8th standard) undergo SHIP. Children are taught about development milestones, physical changes they undergo, effective ways to handle peer pressure, assertiveness, reproductive health care, safe sexual practices, myths and facts about sex and sexuality, information on sexually transmitted diseases, HIV and AIDS. Children also share about the fear and concerns about their sexuality. The session on life line helps them to expresses their past encounters with abusive environments and get help from the facilitator. Each group develops bonding among them and protects each other from unhealthy sexual demand from the external world. A few children who need individual counselling also attended. They do share this information with their friends in schools. Thus they are able to protect themselves and also try to make the environment safe for other children. It’s been wonderful watching our children handling their adolescence effectively and move to the next stage with confidence and awareness.
The children come into the Reception Home are given a quicker version of SHIP with chosen modules as most of them stay only for a shorter period. Child sexual abuse is a raising concern and we do refer children who experienced severe abuse and wrong orientation towards their sexuality to therapists for healing and rehabilitation.
3. ACTIVITIES TO SERVE OTEHRS
SERVICE PROJECTS BY VARIOUS CHILDREN’S FORUMS
Our children are nurtured with the value of ‘Serving others’ and encouraged to participate in various service programmes. The Vidiyal Child Rights Movement provides humpty number of opportunities to put this value in to practice. The idea of adopting a ‘care home’ was well taken by our children and they show keen interest in reaching out to those who are not cared by the main stream society. Every year the children’s forums adopt one ‘care home’ and pay periodical visits to these homes to serve the residents. Children undertake projects like campus cleaning, writing letters for the elders and organizing cultural shows which are much appreciated by the residents and the management of these homes. Every year our children raise money at the Jolly camp on the ‘day of giving’ and donate material needs of these homes on rotation.
OUTREACH ACTIVITIES IN SLUMS AND STREETS OF MADURAI
In 2019 our children gave a new life to the service projects they undertake. Children belonging to the Verhal (Roots) Children Forum stepped into the streets of Madurai with bags loaded with old clothes and met street dwellers and street children and distributed clothes to them. This gave them a new experience in understanding poverty. Each team was accompanied with a volunteer to ensure protection. Children belonging to the Sirpihal (Sculptors) Children Forum visited elderly people inside slums and helped them with their first aid needs. Children belonging to the Vithaihal (Seeds) Children forum attended to the open wounds of children left uncared in slums. These gestures were much appreciated by the communities we partner with.
4. ACTIVITIES FOR THE PROMOTION OF CHILD RIGHTS
The Vidiyal Child Rights Movement has a very clear mandate to promote Child Rights in the society. Children appropriately use their expertise in theatre skills and the children’s theatre group is very active in disseminating the message of Child Rights to every corner of the society. Advocacy campaigns, mass rallies, cycle rallies, Children’s human chain, opinion poll on Child Rights, observance of special days, media advocacy and signature campaigns are the tools used to promote child rights among various stakeholders in the society.