on the details of
32 villages in 2 blocks (Ayothiapattinam and Vazhapadi) of Salem District in Tamil Nadu.
Thematic Focus: Protection and Education
Salem People Trust (SPT) was registered under Tamil Nadu Charitable Trust Act 1882, in 2007. SPT was formed by a small group of persons who had earlier worked in Don Bosco AnbuIllam in Salem. The organization has chosen to work on fundamental issues of children in rural dalit (minority) hamlets of Salem district like child labor, bonded labor, child marriage, female infanticide, education of Dalit and girl children, activation of health centers etc.
The project holder, Ms.Jayam is an activist working for child rights in Salem district for around 19 years. She has experienced severe forms of caste discrimination during her childhood as her parents were in bondage with the upper caste community in the village. The many struggles that Jeyam faced in her childhood, the experience of intense hunger and the humiliation that she and her family members had to endure, laid the foundation for her strong ideological perspective and determination to transform the lives of Dalit children. Over the years she has emerged as a strong organizational head and has demonstrated a critical value – based, dignified leadership style that can be a learning for the development sector as a whole. Since 2010, SPT has focused entirely on child rights issues in the realm of education, protection and their genesis work on bonded labor currently is also with this clear child rights perspective.
The child rights situation in the SPT operational area particularly on protection (child labor, female feticide), education issues are the matter of concern. Consideration for a boy child in the society is a deep rooted patriarchal phenomenon. The aspect of gender discrimination plays very strongly posing the role of women /girl inside the house and conversely to male child. The causative factor in this issue are the 107 scan centers that function in Salem district. In Vazhappadi there are 4 scan centers which facilitate sex selective abortion. Scan centers practice unscrupulous methods of indicating the sex using Jasmine flower for girl and Vadamalli for boys. This is to bypass any action under the PC - PNDT Act (Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act, 1994). In the district, child sex ratio is 916 against the state ratio of 943 that shows presence of large number of female feticide due to patriarchy and patriarchal notions. Girls are vulnerable to several forms of exploitation and intersecting forms of discrimination on the basis of gender, age, class, caste, race and ethnicity along with increased restrictions and decreased opportunities both within and outside the family.
Along with this, child labor is also a major concerning issue in the area among Dalit community. 122 households are bonded labor Dalit households and 1878 are other Dalit households in the operational area. Within the child labors there are few who are seasonal in nature and they drop out and stay out of school for a longer period. There is 5.3% children seasonal/ part time labor from these families in 11-18 years age group; they drop out for small period to support families. With increasing age of children, the number of children dropping out increases and also the vulnerability to get trapped in full time child labor when they reach the age of 15-18 years. The awareness amongst the families is low and determination to ensure that children are in school is inconsistent due to the living conditions and the manner in which their self-esteem and dignity is constantly beaten down by all stakeholders.
SPT has brought remarkable contributions in taking up the issues of children of Dalit and bonded labor families in the operational area. It has been working on the issue of feticide. Currently it has moved further in addressing the issue of female feticide in Tamil Nadu especially with deepening their work with the families and community. It has engaged with in-laws and husbands of the high risk mothers to curb the practice of doing sex selective abortion and prevented several female feticides. It has also engaged with newly married couples on issues of female feticide and gender equality. SPT has brought down the incidence of female feticide. It has also engaged with Public Health Centers and ICDS staff to follow the health services and schedules as per government. Child labors and drop outs were re-enrolled in schools; and few of the bonded labor families have been removed from bondage. By the enrollment drive several children were enrolled in schools and Anganwadi Centers. Some of the significant achievement throughout the years of intervention are as follows:
• Ensured rescue and rehabilitation of 23 Dalit bonded labor families (84 children) working in brick kilns.
• 6 new ICDS centers have been approved and so ensured access to 132 children.
• 2 primary schools have been upgraded to middle schools; 1 middle school has been upgraded to high school; 1 high school has been upgraded to higher secondary school. This gave 382 Dalit children access to school education.
• Primary Healthcare Center at Kootathupatty village has been activated ensuring access to quality health services to 230 children
• 3 sub health centers (SHCs) has been activated and now open for all 7 days with availability of Village Health Nurse.
• The area has no incidence of infanticide & Zero infant and child mortality ratio.
Activities during Covid lock down: Covid 19 lock down leading to schools and Anganwadi centres being closed for more than three months and uncertainty in re-opening of schools/centers. In the operational area, the community was worst affected that depends solely on daily wage income and in particular with landless Dalit and bonded laborers. SPT decided to respond by intervening in this situation by providing basic need of food to destitute, women headed families, impoverished aged bonded laborers. SPT initially contacted its volunteers and supporters and decided to support affected / deprived and needy families. The organization has supported and has reached a total of 385 families and 43 widows with dry rations and cooked food to 141 destitute and aged bonded labor families.
Salem program is focused on protection issues (child labor, female feticide) and education issues (retention, access and quality of education). Below are the activities which are planned by SPT for the year ahead:
Increased attention with children & families through the community towards reducing prevalence of dropouts/seasonal child labor to 3% in the age of 6-18 years and increasing retention in schools through ensuring access and quality education.
Enrolment campaigns focusing into villages on enrolment and retention in transiting grades to ensure all children are in Anganwadi centres / schools / higher education especially post lock down and school reopens.
Awareness generation with parents and communities on steps being taken to ensure children safety in schools.
Keeping a close track of children writing board exams and motivating them for re-appearance of exams to clear the subjects.
Motivating children to continue higher education and keeping a close track of them to prevent dropouts.
Continue evening auxiliary coaching for 14-18 yrs. old children in 5 villages on alternative days with support of local volunteers with fixed plans / schedules.
Provision of reading and study materials for children through resource / digital center for children to enhance their learning and life skills.
Increasing engagement with family in creating awareness and sensitizing the community towards the health system aiding in reduction of incidences of Female Feticide to 35% in the operational area.
139 high risk mothers to be identified / registered. This will be contributed through focused engagement, counseling with high risk mothers along with their family members particularly in-laws and husband, newly married couples and discussing the ill effect of female feticide. Motivating for registration in Anganwadi centres.
68 mothers to be linked by engaging with VHN/Anganwadi workers in registering mothers in Anganwadi centers and ensure they are enrolled into schemes and avail benefits.
Organizing awareness program of 10 days for community through cultural team on the issues of female feticide, health safety in general for Covid and other issues like child labor.
2 programs to be organized village / cluster level programs on promoting girl children, exhibiting girl power / talents and felicitation of parents as part of sensitizing the community on gender neutrality and breaking patriarchy.
Focused engagement with families, community and education system towards reducing the prevalence of child labor to 18% in 32 villages in the intervention area.
Focused discussion and debating with out of school children, parents of child labor and sangams on child labor issues and move towards pulling them out of labor sector and measures taken to re-enroll child labor in age of 11-18 yrs. in schools.
Engaging with teachers in enrolling out of school children and speaking to parents / motivating them to stop sending children to work.
Engagement with community/sangams and panchayat leaders for passing of resolutions against child labor / child marriage.
Organize meeting of 8 children collective and 5 adolescent collectives and take them through themes from CRY life skills education module.
Karate training to 20 girl children in the age group of 11-18 years.
Financial Summary: January to December 2021
Total Grant Approved
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