What is CRY America?
CRY America is CRY, Child Rights and You America Inc, a non-profit organization registered in the USA in November 2002 that works towards restoring basic rights to underprivileged children, especially Indian. At CRY America we believe that each of us as individuals can make a difference. All it takes is the belief that "Change is possible, because I'll make it possible". We believe that together, we can create a movement that can steadily, magically gather momentum and irrevocably change children's lives.
CRY America is a 501c3 registered organization and all donations to CRY America are tax deductible.
Why has CRY America changed its name from Child Relief and You America Inc to Child Rights and You America Inc?
Several years of working with children's issues has taught CRY America that the 'child rights approach' is the most effective way to ensure sustainable change. The United Nation Convention on Child Rights has provided an international framework and we have used this framework for our work. We have tested this approach and established its efficacy. These rights are also guaranteed by the Indian Constitution and India signed the UNCRC in 1992. Continued violation of children's rights is simply unjust.
We are changing our name as part of an effort to widen awareness of and enlist greater support for child rights.
What is the difference between Relief and Rights?
The Relief approach addresses the symptoms of the problem - malnourishment, children out of school, children in the work force, female infanticide etc. The rights approach identifies the underlying causes of these problems - caste, gender and class biases, livelihoods and absent or indifferent governance and finds long-term solutions by ensuring children and communities are informed and empowered to seek solutions.
The relief approach treats children as objects of sympathy needing our help. The rights approach recognizes them as citizens who are entitled to all that has been promised them under the Indian Constitution and by the United Nations Child Rights Charter.
Is CRY America not going to support relief efforts from now on?
You cannot ask a child who is starving, out of school, or being abused and exploited to wait for long-term change to happen. However, even in their 'relief' work, be it with balwadis [ pre-primary centers] and non-formal centers or disaster affected communities, CRY America supported projects are designed to ensure the longer term objectives of community empowerment towards sustainable change.
What rights do children have? Explain each right?
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) grants children 4 basic human rights to survival, development, participation and protection. By signing this Convention, a country acknowledges children as a distinct group of individuals whose concerns need to be addressed separately under law and policy. India signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) in 1992.
The four groups of child rights can be understood as:
THE RIGHT TO SURVIVAL
to life, health, nutrition, name, nationality The right to survival entails the right to a healthy life. This means that children should be rightfully assured of adequate nutrition and quality healthcare. Their names be registered as citizens to access state nutritional schemes. Infant and child mortality should be curtailed and malnourishment should not be a concern.
THE RIGHT TO PROTECTION
From exploitation, abuse, neglect Right to Protection entails that all children be nurtured and protected from harmful influences, abuse and exploitation in any form. It rages from a child's right to be protected from, having to work, to face any kind of physical or mental abuse and to have a caring, secure family.
THE RIGHT TO DEVELOPMENT
to education, care, leisure, recreation, cultural activities. Every child has the right to development that lets the child explore her/him full potential. To an education that that not only lead the child to a path of learning but promotes understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and should contribute to maintenance of peace.
THE RIGHT TO PARTICIPATION
to expression, information, thought, religion This is a right where the child is involved in the decisions take about her/his life and has the space to develop & express independent though.
How are Child Rights and Human Rights linked?
Children do not live in isolation. They belong to families, communities and society at large. They are always the most vulnerable victims to any situation be it poverty, natural disasters, displacement, social biases and prejudices. It is impossible to find long-term solutions to the issues confronting children without addressing these root-causes.
In the case of India, a child may not be in school for multiple reasons: There may be no school in her village The school may be dysfunctional She may be prevented from going to school because of her caste, gender or religion Her parents may need her to work, look after younger siblings or migrate due to economic pressures.
Ensuring she is not only enrolled in school, but stays there and gets an adequate education requires addressing many of those underlying problems.
What is this "child rights approach"?
In the past 11 years, CRY America has witnessed the incredible change that is possible when children, parents and local governance come together to ensure their children's rights - to survival, development, protection and participation. CRY America's partner CRY (a leading child rights organization in India) has been working on these issues for the past 28 years. In over 2500 poor and marginalized communities in 18 states across India, CRY has learned that the only way to make lasting change happen is to adopt what we call the 'child rights approach'. Stripped of all jargon, what this entails is:
first, looking at children's issues in their entirety, rather than through the narrow prisms of education, health, child labor, child abuse, foeticide/infanticide etc. then, seeking the underlying root causes of the deprivation - gender, caste, livelihoods, displacement and the likeand finally, mobilizing each local community to find long-term solutions to these problems by ensuring the relevant laws and policies that guarantee their rights are actually implemented.
What is the role of CRY America in ensuring Child Rights?
CRY America's role is to amplify the voice of India's children to reach large numbers of people of Indian origin and Americans to enlist their support for this cause.
India's children will only achieve the rights guaranteed to them if everyone believes this should be so and exercises all the power at our command - as parents, neighbors, consumers, employees, business people, teachers, politicians, journalists, professionals, bureaucrats, activists and most importantly as citizens - to make this a reality.
We do this by:
- Supporting and partnering NGOs at grassroots levels, mobilizing people to address the root causes that leads to violation of child rights
- Building awareness on childrenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s issues through the media.
- Providing a channel for people to become part of this movement through our civic engagement/ volunteer action programs.
- Providing a channel for individuals, corporations, associations and foundations to become part of this movement through our fund raising programs.
What is CRY America's mission?
To enable people to take responsibility for the situation of underprivileged children, especially Indian, and so motivate them to seek resolution through individual and collective action thereby enabling children to realize their full potential, and people to discover their potential for action and change.
CRY America's Vision:
A happy, healthy and creative child whose rights are protected and honored in a society that is built on respect for dignity, justice and equity for all.
What are CRY America's beliefs?
CRY America believes in creating long-term, sustainable change. Hence, CRY America addresses children's rights and issues holistically. We believe that the solutions to issues that affect children lie not just in direct interventions with the child but beyond as well - in the child's immediate environment; in the socio-political structures and processes that affect the environment. Therefore, our focus is on direct action with children, community mobilization efforts and activities towards influencing macro structures. And through these efforts we believe that we can bring about irrevocable change.
The power of collective action! At CRY America we believe that if each one of us does whatever we can, there is no task which is too big or difficult. We know that when ordinary people, people like you and me join hands we can create a movement that can create a better world for all children.
CRY America's values?
CRY America operates on the values of:
- respect for human dignity
- collective action
- non violence
How does CRY America select the organizations it supports?
The organizations that CRY America supports are selected for their track record, the issues they work with and the impact on the community they work with. We also realize the criticality of ensuring that the resources are utilized by grantees optimally and effectively.
To ensure this, CRY America utilizes the grant management services of CRY, a premier Indian NGO for child rights, to ensure the quality of each of these interventions. CRY has developed highly effective selection, planning, monitoring and evaluation systems in it's 33 years of operation.
CRY America also supports Projects for children's development in the USA.
How does CRY America perceive its role vis-a-vis children?
- 46% of children in India are underweight, 38% stunted and 19% wasted... their fate decided even before they turn three. [National Family Health Survey, 2007]
- 53% children in India reported having faced one or more forms of sexual abuse.[Ministry of Women and Child Development, 2007]
- There are 17 million child laborers in India [Government of India Census, 2001]
- 180 out of 581 districts in India have seen primary school enrolments fall [DISE, compiled by NUEPA]
- 88,000 schools (nearly 8 percent) in India still do not have a blackboard in their classes [2007 Survey by HRD Ministry, UNICEF and NEUPA]
These statistics are shocking, especially in the light of recent GDP growth. A number of recent Indian government reports and pronouncements does indicate recognition of the scale and severity of the problems afflicting India's children and the need for more inclusive economic policies.
The reality of India more than 60 years after independence is that millions of children have their very survival threatened on a daily basis - malnutrition, illiteracy, child labor, preventable diseases, abuse and exploitation.
Given the recent publicity regarding India's economic growth, there is a danger that this reality will be ignored and India's underprivileged children will become invisible.
CRY America's raison d'etre is therefore to ensure that the story of India's children is heard.
CRY America works towards restoring basic rights to underprivileged children, primarily those in India. The organization channels the concern, goodwill, time, money, skills and civic responsibility of individuals and organizations in the US towards child development Projects in India and the USA. The idea is to create effective grassroots change movements that will empower marginalized communities to build sustainable futures for their children.
What is capacity building?
NGOs are most often started by individuals or groups who feel passionately about an issue.
To grow to significant scale, achieve long-term sustainability and maximize their impact they often need support - financial, program design, organization building, training, information support and networking. This is what CRY America defines as capacity building.
CRY America utilizes the grant management services of CRY India to ensure that the quality of supported initiatives is enhanced and that the funds are utilized optimally. CRY has developed over the last 30 years highly effective selection, planning, monitoring, evaluation, systems that include:
Stringent partner selection processes including pre-funding site visits.
Quarterly/half-yearly field visits, financial reports, grant disbursal based on reviews
Financial Risk Management Module to help identify projects where funds maybe at risk due to poor financial management.
Ongoing review of accounting systems by project partner, regional CRY teams.
Exhaustive and well-recognized impact parameters are used in reviewing and planning processes that enables grantees and CRY America to set clearly defined, measurable long term goals. Impact parameters are selected that highlight the status of children and ultimatelyreflect the socio- economic status of any community that CRY America is working with.
How does CRY America reach out to the children?
At CRY America, we've learned that permanent change is only possible when children, their parents and their communities are informed about their rights and engage with their local government bodies to ensure the root causes of their immediate problems are solved. We believe in the philosophy of community mobilization - empowering communities - (the immediate family, the immediate neighborhood and the village or the town) to resolve the problems affecting them.
To achieve this we partner and support grassroots Projects who work with these communities. CRY America helps these projects with financial and non financial support.
CRY America partners with CRY India to ensure that the grants to India Projects are utilized effectively and that the quality of their work is enhanced. Non financial support includes project-planning, financial management, material requirements, perspective-building programs, baseline data establishment, organizational development, training for skill building, information support, and developing promotional materials.
Does CRY America support children's Projects in the USA?
Yes - we do. We believe that the issue of underprivileged children across the world needs support. We have supported Save the Children's Hurricane Katrina's relief and rehabilitation efforts. We also support best in class organizations such as the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, Child Welfare League of America and Children's Rights Inc. Our focus for selecting US Grantees includes the issues of child health and child abuse & neglect.
Does CRY America allow me to monitor my contributions?
We believe that all our donors, volunteers and supporters must be informed about CRY America and it's activities. This includes info about money raised, spent, disbursed to projects. We declare our financial results to everybody through our Annual Reports and publish our accounts on our website for public viewing.
We report on the progress of supported Projects and achievements through direct mailers and newsletters through the year. Details of supported Projects are also available on our website at all times
How does CRY America raise funds in the US?
CRY America partners with individuals, networks, corporations and foundations to raise funds. Some key fund-raising strategies include direct mail, telecalling, events and promoting the organization through our website.
In support of its fund-raising activities, CRY America has developed, implemented and trained its staff in a completely customized software program, Donor Management System (DMS), which enables effective donor servicing and analysis to study effectiveness of fund-raising strategies/ campaigns.
It has also established CRY America as an effective fund-raising channel that accepts general donations, emergency based donations, payments for events. Individual donors continue to be CRY America's primary support base.
Who is a typical CRY America volunteer and what is the role of a Volunteer?
The core of CRY America is volunteer action. CRY America runs on the strength of her volunteers. Volunteers are a team of dedicated people willing to give their time and skills to promote and build CRY America and to raise resources for underprivileged children.
Each volunteer is a child advocate. He / She is also a brand ambassador of CRY America. He / she works among his/ her colleagues, friends, family and local community to raise awareness about children's issues and help harness resources. Every effort of the volunteer is a building block to achieve the ultimate goal of CRY America - ensuring a secure future for children!
At CRY America, volunteers can participate in the following way....
- Join a CRY America Action center in their city.
- Start a CRY America Action center in their city, if one does not exist.
- Help organize Events and help sponsor them.
- Help increase our volunteer base.
- Spread the word about CRY America among friends, colleagues, family and local community.
- Talk about CRY America to the organization/institution where he/she works.
- Put up posters and distribute CRY America leaflets at your office, other offices, clubs and other public places.
- Help CRY America organise events nationally - across various cities through our action centers.
- We currently have a base of over 850 CRY America volunteers across the US.
What is an Action Center? How many Actions Centers does CRY America currently have?
We refer to a local volunteer chapter in a particular city in the USA, as an Action Center. Each AC is led and managed by a Volunteer Leader and built on the principal of civic engagement towards restoring to children their basic rights.
Given below are locations where we have AC's:
- Bay Area
- College Station (student group)
- Frankfort, KY
- Lexington (student group)
- Munster (student group)
- New York
- New Jersey
- Southern California
- San Diego
What is the role of the CRY America Action Centers Leaders Collective?
The AC Leaders Collective is a leadership body at the national level which upholds & realizes CRY America's mission, values and objectives; develops plans to achieve the Volunteer Action functions goals.
This group has its own yahoo group and meets once a month via telecon. Volunteer Leaders also take on national roles such as Web & IT support, co-ordination of national events and social media. All AC Leaders are part of this leadership group.
Does CRY America have a Corporate office?
We have a small corporate office in Boston which was set up in 2005. This office is the central coordinating office for all CRY America's plans, reviews and activities. Our CEO is based in Boston and our accountants office is also located in MA. The full time staff team includes our Fundraising Manager (East Coast) based in NY/NJ, our Fundraising Director (West Coast) based in Orange County/CA and our Volunteer Action Manager based in LA.
What is the Structure of CRY America?
CRY America Board (including CEO) ==> Executive Leadership Group (including volunteer leaders and staff) ==> Action Center Leaders ==> Volunteer Core Groups across Action Centers ==> Volunteers
CRY America Board & Role?
The Trustees are responsible for the overall governance of CRY America as specified in the Bylaws and specifically, in the areas of CRY America policy, statutory & legal compliance, financial oversight and approval of business plans towards building a strong and relevant organization. The Volunteer
Representative is nominated to the Board through a process of elections among volunteer leaders. The Board comprises of the following persons:
Shefali Sunderlal (President & Program Director)
Apoorv Agarwal ( Honorary Trustee & Treasurer)
Sujay Saha (Honorary Trustee, Board Secretary & Volunteer Representative)
Puja Marwaha (Honorary Trustee)
Anita Bala Sharad (Honorary Trustee)
CRY America Executive Committee & Role?
The Executive Committee provides collective leadership and direction at the national level.
Members include full time staff and volunteer leaders. It is responsible for:
Upholding and internalizing CRY America's mission, values and objectives
Developing and executing plans to achieve CRY America's goals
Retaining our current supporter base and increasing the base of supporters across all functions
Accountability of CRY America's operations and resources towards making the organization more efficient and effective.
CRY America Advisory Board & Role?
Provides expertise, support and advice to CRY America in specialized and critical areas of need (as defined by the organization in various stages of its life cycle) and is committed to helping the organization grow.
- CRY America has a large volunteer base across the US. Volunteers play a critical role in promoting & building CRY America.
- CRY America also supports projects in the USA.
CRY India is a premier Indian Non-government Organization (NGO) that has been working in the area of child rights for over 33 years. CRY has gained the trust of donors across the world for its highly effective planning, monitoring and evaluation systems that are applied to each of the supported projects.
Most of the NGO's publish annual reports, so why do you claim to be transparent?
CRY America's belief in transparency and accountability is not limited only to the publishing of Annual Reports. It spans an entire gamut of operations. What it means in practical terms:
At the project/ initiative level: There is intensive involvement of CRY's development support team in strategy formulation and planning by the partner. The Projects are encouraged to discuss budgets/expenditure with core team and the community as well. This is followed by monitoring of programs on a quarterly/half yearly/annual basis including field visits to meet the project staff, children and community groups. Future grant disbursalsare based on these reviews. There is also ongoing review of accounting systems by the partner, regional team and an external financial agency.
At the organizational level this is reflected in internal management and accounting systems and organization planning / review processes.
CRY America engages professional assistance in ensuring proper book keeping and financial systems. The organizations performance including it's achievements and Project impact is disseminated to donors, volunteers and the public through direct mailers, annual reports, newsletters and published through the year on our website cryamerica.org
CRY America's accounts are audited anually by an external financial agency, as per US accounting norms and the Audited Report is available on our website for public viewing.
What are the criteria used for a child to be in a CRY Project?
CRY America does not work directly in the field with children. CRY America identifies the areas and issues of most critical need and provides grassroots Projects working in those areas financial, organization building, training and networking support. CRY America accords higher priority to remote areas, socially and economically marginalized communities and those working with difficult issues. All CRY America supported Projects must also be secular, non-violent, transparent, and inclusive in their functioning.
If it is now community based what are the criteria to include a community?
How do you deal with children on the streets and disabled children?
Apart from supporting urban programs that work with street children, CRY America also addresses the root causes of migration that force children and their families onto the streets of Indian cities. Further, CRY America's partner CRY, works with the Indian government to develop better policies for juvenile homes and laws relating to children in conflict with the law. Similarly, CRY America seeks to ensure that physically and mentally challenged children receive equal treatment.
A single child sponsorship, why is it not recommended by CRY America if it mutually benefits the donor and the child in need? Why does CRY America not directly link a donor with a child, when other NGO's use this approach?
There are several reasons why we have chosen not to connect donors directly to children in CRY America supported Projects.
The first, and perhaps most important reason, is our belief that the support we provide children is theirs by right and they should not be expected or made to feel obliged to us or to donors for the support they receive. Building self-assurance and independence among the children we work with, is often the single most vital ingredient in their achieving these rights. Upholding the dignity of children is important to us.
Secondly, the resources CRY America receives from individuals are not directed to a specific child. They go towards supporting grassroots Projects and cover the costs of teachers, education material, training programs and efforts with parents and communities to enable them to ensure their children's rights. We believe this approach is not only more sustainable in the long-term, but also impactsfar more children and families than just those covered directly by balwadis [pre-primary centers] and non-formal education centers in CRY America supported projects. This in turn ensures that the communities we work with become truly empowered and they can then address their issues in the best interests of their children.
The third obstacle to direct linkages between donors and children are the sheer logistical, admnistrative and financial implications of doing this. It would require additional systems, personnel and funds to log, track and moderate communications. In addition, when a donor ceases to contribute (as some do each year) we would need to explain this to the kids and deal with their reactions to the termination of the relationship which would occur for no fault of theirs.
If some children in a Project are supported may feel special, while other children who don't have a sponsor may feel that something is wrong with them. We don't want to make children to undergo these ups and downs, when all we are trying to do is to restore to them their basic rights.
These are some of the reasons we do not have a system of direct linkage between donors and children. All the resources we raise are pooled together and disbursed to the Projects we support, not to individual children.
Don't you think it is better to employ a child and send him to school for part time rather than have him face poverty?
Child labor perpetuates poverty. Child laborers come from impoverished families because working in harsh unhealthy conditions leads children to grow into unskilled, debilitated adults who will not even be employed by the very industry that exploited them. Furthermore, child laborers receive a low, negligible income and often no wages at all. Child labor also depresses adult wages and keeps adults unemployed.
All the available data, from the India PROBE report to the demand for private education in rural India to CRY's own experience confirms that parents value education and will do their best, including incurring considerable financial costs to ensure their children go to school. Often this is a process that takes time. CRY America supports evening classes and bridge education classes for children till the public school is accessible and other barriers like child labor, girl child discrimination, migration, displacement etc have been addressed.
The idea that some children have no alternative than to work is so universally entrenched that even social workers attached to agencies implementing direct support programs were initially reluctant to persuade parents of working children to enroll them in formal schools.
They feared that families of child laborers would not accept the idea of full-time formal schools, individual and community acceptance of education as an alternative to work did not turn out to be as difficult as it was generally feared to be. More difficult than parental resistance to formal schooling for their children, was the difficulty in satisfying the administrative requirements for admission. Documentary evidence of date of birth, and transfer from a previous school (in the case of children who are being re-integrated into schools) were greater barriers in enrolling children into schools.("Problems of Universal Elementary Education", Poromesh Acharya, Economic and Political Weekly, December 3, 1994.)
Why should I commit my money to the community? Isn't it because of lazy parents that children are in trouble?
Every child deprived of her rights is our responsibility.
We committed these rights to children as nations and their violation is unjust. Whether, therefore, we view this from the point of view of legal obligation, enlightened self-interest or simply the desire to build a just society, ensuring child rights is our responsibility as citizens.
While it is true that child laborers usually come from impoverished families where at times parents do not have work, it must be understood that if a parent forces her child to work it is not out of choice.
A parent will force her child to work only under extreme conditions and by doing that she is squashing her dreams for a happy childhood for her child which she would have wanted to give her otherwise.
It should be noted that child labor also perpetuates poverty and unemployment. Child laborers receive a low, negligible income and often no wages at all. This depresses adult wages and keeps adults unemployed. Furthermore, the child labor misses out on a chance for education and exploring her/his potential. The one who survives the harsh conditions in future becomes an unskilled, debilitated adult who is then not employed even in the same industry that exploited him or her earlier. Thus, the cycle continues of parents being unemployed & children working that further weakens the job market.
What is the relationship between CRY India & CRY America?
CRY, Child Rights and You, India, (CRY India) is the owner and licensor of the CRY name and trademarks worldwide. CRY America is the sole representative and licensee of the CRY name and trademarks in the USA. CRY America also utilizes the grant management services of CRY India to ensure that the grants released to India Projects are optimally utilized and the quality of programs enhanced.
How is CRY America different from its partner CRY India?
- CRY America is an independent non profit organization registered in the USA.
- CRY America has its own Board of trustees.
- CRY America is a 501c3 approved organization & all US based donations are tax exempt.
What will your stake with the Indian Government be?
Our partner CRY India analyses government policies to assess their impact on the rights of children. CRY engages with government agencies at all levels from villages to the national level to ensure that existing child-friendly policies are implemented and that new policies are evolved where necessary. This engagement ranges from advising the Indian government on projects for street children to studying the conditions in juvenile homes, to drafting the current Juvenile Justice Act, coordinating govt. relief work in disaster areas, consulting with the Planning Commission and advocating for the Fundamental Right to education.
CRY India also plans to work with various levels of Government to promote a comprehensive Child Rights Act/Law for India and the formation of a strong Child Rights Commission in India.
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