India January 2010
Training the Mothers in Pre School Activities
Photos coutesy of CINI
CINI endeavours to help underprivileged mothers and children across India break free from the cycle of poverty and neglect.
Following on from her visit to the Asian Univertsity for Women in Bangaldesh in early January, Cherie travelled to India in support of a number of charities she is involved with there.
One of these is Child in Need India (CINI), based in Kolkata. CINI endeavours to help underprivileged mothers and children across India break free from a cycle of poverty and neglect. Around 6,000 children die every day in India; one child every fifteen seconds. Most of these deaths are preventable and CINI focuses on the health, welfare and education of vulnerable children and women, currently reaching almost 5 million people in the states of West Bengal and Jharkhand. In Kolkata city CINI provides basic care services to over 9,000 children living with their families on the street and in the slum areas. The charity reaches out across all levels of Indian society by going from door to door in the villages and slums as well as engaging with locally elected representatives in an effort to influence public policy.
On her arrival Cheire and her fellow guests were greeted with a song of welcome by a number of the children who attend the night shelter provided by CINI, A fascinating explanation of the work that CINI does in the region was then given, accompanied by slides. In the discussions following the presentation, attention was drawn to the fact that India has the world's largest number of malnourished children, and the grave consequences of that undernourishement for their physical and mental development in later life. Such children are likely to drop out of school and often end up as working or street children or being trafficked. CINI endeavours to provide an integrated nutrition, health, education and protection programme to these deprived children acroos a vast spread of slum and village areas.
Following the discussions, the visitors went to meet twenty of the children living on the premises, who had been rescued from the streets, and were awaiting re-union with their families. A sick bay houses and cares for those children who are unwell and who later return on recovery to their families.Those who cannot be re-united will be sent for long term stay in hostels or government homes. During their short stay at the CINI half way house, the children attend local schools.
Cherie and the other visitors went next to Sealdah Railway station, one of the major stations of Kolkata. CINI manages a drop-in-centre for run away children, street children and slum children there next to the railway tracks. Approximately 20 children come to this centre where they get a meal, receive counseling, first aid and education. They stay in a safe environment at night and proceed during the day to persue vocational training. CINI's drop in centre has directly helped 155 children who work or sleep on the platforms and on board trains at Azimganj railway station. The centre is open five days a week and provides a safe place for children aged five to 16 to study, play and enjoy recreational activities. The centre helps wean children away from work and teaches them valuable life skills, important for their reintegration back into mainstream society. CINI also undertakes awareness raising activities in the local communities, informing then about their own children's rights, safety, protection and the need to create child friendly spaces. These have reached out to 10,000 people living in the area surrounding the railway station, and in the slum adjacent to the railway.
The final visit was to the Bibibagan slum area located in Ward 56 in Kolkata. In this slum young Muslim women are given monetary incentives to attend to high school and university. In turn they then provide training to parents in early learning skiils for their children such as singing, stimulating play activities, coordination, identifying shapes, colors etc, in order to prepare them for school entry in local schools. Many young Muslim women have taken advantage of this programme from CINI to go to university and take up employment locally. There was a very warm interactive discussion with Cherie on issues such as education, jobs for women, health, hygiene and family planning.
It is possible to link up with CINI in the UK through their "Sponsor a Mother" programme, an innovative form of child sponsorship in which sponsors are linked with pregnant mothers before their children are even born, in order to understand better at a human scale the work the charity is doing with families during the crucial early years of child development. The charity is currently encouraging people to sponsor a mother as an alternative gift for Mother's Day.
For further information click here.