Hyderabad : A man who once worked as a child labourer is now working to protect the rights of underprivileged children in six states.
The man who goes by the name of Santosh founded his NGO “People Helping Children” in the year 2018 and the organisation has been working for children in six states.
He said he was forced into doing hazardous work in his childhood and does not want any other child to suffer like him.
“I lost my childhood completely working as a child labourer. I have had the first-hand experience of child labour and its effects on growing minds. I don’t want anyone to lose their childhood. It is very important for children to get an education and nutritious food. That is why even the Indian government has made primary school education mandatory till 14 years of age,” he said.
Santosh who has a BA in Social Work currently runs a team of over 50 with over 1000 volunteers who work for the rights of children.
“We have been working for the protection of the rights of underprivileged children set up this foundation in 2018, but I have been working since 2017. Initially, we worked in Telugu-speaking states only and now after nearly two years we have expanded to six states,” he said.
Speaking about his NGO’s initiative to provide tribal children with primary education, Santosh said that children in tribal areas face a lot of problems going to school due to various reasons like lack of proper transportation to their schools, and lack of awareness in parents regarding the importance of education.
“We are trying to create awareness among tribal parents about the importance of imparting education to their children. After a certain age, children cannot cope up or develop an interest in education as they might already be working somewhere or be affected by the family conditions, so we are trying to identify such children and provide primary education in their own tribal clusters. We provide the children with all the required stationary and salaries to the teachers,” he stated.
Talking about the syllabus adopted by his NGO, Santosh said it is a bridge course that helps the NGO identify the age of the child and then decide accordingly the standard of the primary school the child would fit in.
“Then we start from scratch and teach accordingly. Once the children are done with the course, then they will be joined the ‘Ashram Schools’ or residential schools for tribal children, where they can continue with the rest of the school education.”
Vijaya, the program director of People Helping Children, said that apart from the primary education program, the NGO also extends its service in providing nutritious food to the children in slums.
“We are working on providing nutritious food to the children living in slums. Apart from this, we are working on menstrual hygiene. With this, we are trying to develop awareness among the tribal communities regarding the menstrual cycle and hygiene. We help girls with sanitary pads and to date, we were able to distribute more than 25,000 sanitary napkins to the women living in inaccessible areas. In near future, we would create awareness about the use of eco-friendly sanitary pads,” Vijaya stated.