Karpagam is a 9th grade student who is studying in the government school. Her father is a coolie and her mother is a domestic worker. Karpagam comes from an economically poor background and since she would always accompany her mother she could not cope with school work and had to drop out.
It was at this time that an education programme supported by Concern India Foundation came out to help save Karpagam’s childhood. The children club members and tuition teachers from the project convinced her parents to send her to school regularly. Today, Karpagam is happy to join her friends at school and tuition class.
This programme in Chennai runs 5 evening tuition centres in 5 slums for the children of domestic workers. The project monitors their studies through evening tuition thus helping them improve the quality of education. The project has been incredible because it has managed to reach out to some of the most vulnerable population in the city in the remotest of areas. The teachers from the programme motivate and encourage children to be regular at school and the tuition centres.
The Project has been working with domestic workers and their children for the past eight years in Tamil Nadu and nearly 200 children are benefiting through this support.
– Rathna Deepak, Programmes Co-ordinator, Concern India Foundation (Chennai)
Ruma Roka is the founder of a programme supported by Concern India Foundation that provides development opportunities to hearing impaired youth in Delhi. The project conducts various trainings in Indian sign language, english communication, basic computer applications etc to train them. It focusses on facilitating employment and mainstreaming of these youth in the society. We speak to Ruma to get more details.
a) What made you start this programme?
I learnt sign language and started meeting people from the deaf community – children, young people and older married hearing impaired people and heard their heart-rending stories of how they were completely cut off from all forms of learning, education and knowledge due to lack of language. They had no skills or opportunities that most of us take for granted. I felt that I must do something to bring about a change through training and education in this disadvantaged community.
b) Challenges you have faced so far?
The challenges were many – firstly to make the youth believe in themselves and develop relevant skills. There was no awareness about the abilities of deaf youth as a productive employee and even the job profiles were limiting. There were no training manuals or curriculum for these visual learners so we had to create our own. Finding teachers who had empathy were difficult to find and parents also had to be counselled on a regular basis.
c) Impact it has made in your community?
It gives me great satisfaction that through all these challenges, we have been able to reach out to and train over 4,000 children and youth since our inception in 2005. We have helped over 870 youth get employed in the formal industry helping them lead self-reliant lives.
– Pushpa Goswami, Programmes Team, Concern India Foundation (Delhi)
We met Narsing Rao, the founder of an organisation that provides education to the girl child and offers skill development for girls and young women in different parts of Hyderabad and Karimnagar. Supported by Concern India Foundation the project aims to impart training to adolescent girls, school dropouts and housewives. We bring you excerpts of our conversation with him.
What made you to start this programme?
I started the vocational centre for young girls and women in Hyderabad and Karimnagar back in 1986 with a few like-minded people who were involved in social development activities. The aim was to create livelihood, education and self employment opportunities. And the need of the hour was to educate the girl child.
What are the challenges that you have faced so far?
Even though the project has faced myriad challenges it has run successfully. There were times when the centre was threatened because of a dam construction and there were instances where the community was not open to sending young girls and women to the vocational centre. Through it all the programme has emerged a winner. The same women, who were once refused to step out of their homes, have become trainers in their respective vocational centres.
What has been the impact of this programme in the community?
In Hyderabad we have supported four tailoring centers since 2007 after identifying school dropouts and young women who are into beedi rolling and cotton bathi rolling. On an average 20 to 30 per cent of the girls and women trained by us are now working as trainers at our centres. Almost 70 girls and women are trained in our centres every year.
The women work as assistants under tailors or on their own and some are also working in a government manufacturing company.The programme has also worked in making a mandal in Karimnagar a child labor free zone, has worked on reduction of child labor in beedi rolling and has conducted health checkups to create awareness.
– Archana Nune, Programmes Co-ordinator, Concern India Foundation (Hyderabad)
When we decided to visit this old age home in Chennai supported by Concern India Foundation, we didn’t know that this would turn out to be an experience unlike any other.
When we reached the project, we were greeted at the door by the project manager of the programme who took us to the airy verandah where the residents were informally seated. A few ladies were sitting on the floor and cleaning rice in traditional bamboo sieves. All of them looked clean and well cared for and were quite pleased to see visitors. We all chatted with the residents for quite a while.
We then walked across the residence built around an open courtyard, which has a huge tank for storing water. This was the first project that Concern India Foundation had supported in this programme.
About 35 elderly residents live here currently. Interestingly each one has a different story about their coming into this old age home. While someone was found at a railway station and bought here, another elderly was spotted on a bus stop. Most of them have been referred to this shelter home by the old age helpline. In fact while we were there, a Helpline member arrived with a new lady who had dementia and could not remember anything about her family.
As we bid our goodbyes we realise that for these residents this old age home is their entire world. They may not have anyone to turn to in the outside world but they are each others’ family here and are very happy here.
– Programmes Team, Concern India Foundation (Chennai)