Experience as shared by a Gandhi Fellow.

It is inspiring to find these kids socially map their slum and engage with the local corporator/mayor/MLA on issues of sanitation, health, education and employment. They prepare comprehensive mobilization maps under the guidance of urban planners and work towards ensuring child – friendly cities. They organize club meetings and follow the legal procedure to approach the authorities. It is remarkable to see that a 6th standard child leader managed to get a sewage pipeline fixed, a 9th standard child leader got the community to build more than 50 toilets under the ODF Scheme and a 12th standard student managed to go to the US for a Conference on Urban Planning and presented a 3D model for dream cities in developing countries.

Their confidence and problem solving skills are absolutely brilliant. Coming from a background where a lot is talked about and debated in the realm of policy/politics/administration/international relations, it’s inspiring to see kids at this age achieve it all on ground. Their experiential learning is far greater than what our textbooks envision to give us. It is so much more realistically appealing than building a virtual knowledge base about development.

By
Syeda Asia

Advertisements

My experience at Urban Thinkers Campus

It was my second visit to Delhi. Yet the excitement level was still that of a first timer. I took a flight named Vistara to Delhi. It was for the first time in my life, that I witnessed such a big and grand hotel. I couldn’t wait to step in and see how much more beautiful it would be inside.

Preeti Didi (National Campaign Coordinator), Kiran Bhai (Regional Coordinator, West) ,Sekhar Bhai (Urban Programme Manager, BvLF) accompanied me to my room. My roommate was a child leader named Malthy, from Mumbai,. I felt quite good when I first met her. Since it was already quite late, we decided to sleep, I forcefully shut my eyes which were wide open with anticipation and excitement about the next day.

We all woke up early to have our breakfast which was on the sixth floor. After which we all headed towards the Urban Thinkers Campus meeting hall. After the first sitting I and Malthy, along with the child leaders from Delhi went for a drawing workshop. We all were really happy to draw and show our respective drawing to one another. We also shared stories of our work and schools with one another. There were photographers who clicked pictures of us, with our drawing and also in groups.

I and Malthy then headed towards our room, it got little boring as we had nothing to do. We then decided to call our friends and talk about how Delhi was. After an hour or so, Kiran and Sekhar Bhai called us for dinner. At 10 PM, we went to Preeti didi’s room for preparing our presentation, which was scheduled for the next day. We retired early to bed as we had to wake up early to revise our presentation.

Next morning, we went to Preeti didi’s room to revise our presentation, following which there was breakfast on the sixth floor.

With butterflies in our stomachs, I and Malthy, accompanied by Preeti did headed for the conference. I was a little nervous on the stage but somehow I completed my presentation, which was followed by Malthy’s. Preeti didi then translated our presentations for the audience. Whilst Malthy’s presentation I could understand the urban problems in our country.

Though my presentation wasn’t as good as I expected it to be, I still felt happy that I could speak on such a huge platform in front of so many people.  Few people then asked us questions on the challenges that we faced on while forming the child club. I and Malthy answered their questions.

We then had our lunch and shared our experiences with each other. Those were the last few moments with everyone. We then headed to the airport to return to Bhubaneswar. Enroute to the airport I saw both, the development and pollution in Delhi.

Dharitri and Preeti didi returned to Bhubaneswar with me. My tour to Delhi was really amusing and unforgettable. I thank HBC for giving me this beautiful opportunity. This trip was really informative and enjoyable. I hope I have done my job as a child leader.

Usharani
Child leader, Bhubaneswar

 

 

 

An Exquisite Experience

It was an ordinary Sunday morning, but I woke up with a special motive that day- I was going to visit the child leaders of Humara Bachpan Campaign.

My fellow batch mates had already paid a visit to the community the previous Sunday and I had been looking forward to grab the opportunity to interact with those zeal driven little kids.  So I along with four other group members reached the Humara bachpan office in sailashree vihar, Bhubaneswar.

15 children arrived at the office, all excited to learn.  We started with a brief self introduction session. All of us were seated in a circle and introduced ourselves one after another.

Then we began with the learning. Our group’s purpose was to teach the children about the use and importance of Ms PowerPoint in making better presentations.

As it was the first class, we taught them the basics of PowerPoint tool. To my amazement the children were very proactive in learning the concepts .Some of the older students were already familiar with the PowerPoint and showed a great deal of interest in enhancing their knowledge further.

It was so fascinating to watch how quickly the children were able to grasp whatever we taught them.They were very attentive and sincerely listening to us (wish I was that attentive to my lectures in college!) and that is the best part, we also got to learn from them in different ways. They were keen and eager to explore the ppt functions and usages. The children asked questions frequently to clear the multitude of doubts and curiosity that rose in their minds.

The members of the ngo were very supportive and provided us with any help required. The whole ambience was so cheerful and content. The interaction went on for two hours, and the class ended with a couple of fun-filled games.

We all mingled with the kids and laughed our hearts off. It was indeed the cherry on top of a fantastic morning.

What a delightful day it was!

I will remember each and every moment spent with them. The amount of enthusiasm in them is unbelievable. Sure they will reach new heights in life.

Kudos to them!

Jigeesha Muduli
KIIT University

 

A Sunday Well Spent!

A Sunday Well Spent

 

Usually Sundays are slothful as I do not do anything but just sit back in the house. But 13th of December 2015 was not a usual Sunday for me. It was my first day as a volunteer for Hamara Bachpan Campaign. We divided ourselves into groups of 4 and headed towards our respective slums.

We reached Damana Hata Basti at around 3 PM. As it was my first visit, to be frank I was experiencing a plethora of emotions. I was exhilarated, anxious, expectant and clueless about what my first visit would be like. As we walked down to the slum I saw a flock of children rushing towards us. I was delighted to see such cheerfulness. They were all so well mannered and well behaved that each one of them came individually and shook hands with each of us with a pleasant hello. I was surprised with all the warmth and comfort that was showered upon us.

We went into the community centre and sat in a circle. Although there were only 15-20 0f them but eventually many of them started coming. We sat down and began with a quick introductory session. Each one of us introduced ourselves to the rest of them. We found the introduction pattern quite fascinating; they had a certain way to introduce themselves (one would tell his/her name and would ask the one sitting right next to introduce themselves).

After the introduction, the kids curiously asked, as to what we were going to do! We told them that we were there for a mutual learning process. We would to teaching them what we were good at and they would teach what they were good at. They were very happy and asked us to teach them English and computers. Many of them exclaimed saying “Please come every Sunday to meet us, we would be more than happy to meet and talk to you”. That was very overwhelming for all of us.

After this to make it more fun we asked them to dance. And many of them were sportive enough to dance and we all had a good time there.

Contrary to my expectations the children were so cheerful, energetic, sportive, excited and innocent. We could see willingness in them to explore and learn. The warmth with which they greeted us was an indication that the visit is going to be very special. Before we left they took us around and showed their house and colony to us.

Their expectations from me has instilled a sense of responsibility, that I have to be useful to them, give them learnings that would help them all through their lives. It was a beautiful experience and I hope my journey as a volunteer would give me several such memories.

Anajna N. Menon
KIIT University

 

 

Eye Contact

EYE – CONTACT

I am a Humara Bachpan volunteer, and I vow to do as much as I can for the children. I am a HBC volunteer who has vowed to be a part of this noble cause. I am a Humara Bachpan volunteer who adorns the badge- ‘I am a child advocate’. Yet I’m not the kind of person who would give alms to a child on the street. As bizarre as this sounds!! I still stand by my words.

Once I stood at the bus stand waiting for the bus when I felt someone touching my arms. I looked around and found a couple of children hardly seven years of age, torn clothes, messy hair, and in a  shivering tone  they ask me “Kuch dey do bhaiya, bhook laga hai” (Please give me something to eat, I’m hungry.”) My heart melted at the very sight of those children, their eyes desperately looking into mine with hope that I would offer them something and not turn them down like the rest.

Let me generalize this scene to any other person. Either he would pass by without paying any heed or simply take a coin and throw it into their begging bowls. What amuses me more is the explanations people give after having given their alms. It goes like- “Garib Hai Help kar dete yar, duyaein milengi”(They are poor, God would bless you if you help them)

Interrupt me if I’m wrong but I don’t find this approach very sustainable. There’s a Chinese saying that goes like “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; show him how to catch fish, and you feed him for a lifetime. If you actually want to see significant changes happening, make people aware of their rights, motivate them to fight for their rights. Tokenistic approach never leads to anything fruitful.

I am no ANGEL, and I was no different when it came to  reacting to something like this. Either I gave alms or simply retreated.But one fine day I  asked introspected and realized that this approach never really helped. How long can , but why don’t we hug them for a second or caress them for that moment? Why do we fail to understand that more than MONEY they are deprived of that ONE-MOMENT of LOVE and AFFECTION? Have we ever tried  looking into their eyes to realize what actually they need??

I once dared to look into their eyes, just to find out their eyes wandering into mine and pleading me to help them, to pull them out of this dire situation, they want to feel secured, loved and cared for. Let’s all vow to go beyond what’s on the surface and for once make an eye contact to actually realize what’s hidden in those eyes.

By
Hemant Prasad
Volunteer from Orissa Engineering College
Bhubaneswar

I realized and I acted.

I had always heard of slums and Jhuggis but never really bothered to delve into their meanings and existence. Today, as a volunteer of Humara Bachpan Campaign, I got the opportunity to venture into that part of my city which was nothing but a word to me till date.

I came across narrow roads, stinky lanes, houses cramped and converging from both sides, you name a problem and you find it there. Standing there I wondered, how people actually lived here.

I saw people living lives which is hard to even imagine. An existence that is a far cry from any reasonable standard of living.  The pangs of helplessness crumbed me, I wondered what I could do, to help them, to at least see them having the basic necessities of life.

As I walked through the lanes and met some amazing children, I was reminded of my childhood, I couldn’t help but think of the stark difference between the childhood they are living and the one I had. I remember my childhood free from any worries, where life just revolved around enjoying every second.

And here I found these children fighting for something as basic as a decent house, living in constant fear of losing their house to some industrial project. I saw them playing on the streets amidst vehicles, animals and what not, and I remember playing in open fields and grounds from dusk to dawn. I really wonder, would these children ever think of their childhood with as much joy and nostalgia with which I do!!

Being the relatively privileged members of the society, seeing them fight for their rights, a sudden surge of emotions grasped me, I wanted to do something, anything to see them have a better life, to see them smile, to see them get what they deserved.

I must not forget to mention Anand, a 14 year old boy and a perfect personification of his name. He took us around his slum and presented before us the various developmental maps that the child leaders in his community had made showcasing their current slum scenario, their dream neighborhood and a plethora of other developmental maps.

I was awestruck to see that children as old as eight or nine talk with so much of conviction and vigor. It was such a wonderful surprise to see them fight so relentlessly for their rights. The zeal in them inspired me to help them achieve their dream. Hats off to such talent.

Thanks to Humara Bachapan and my co-volunteers who introduced me to this wonderful campaign and introduced me to a part of my society that was hidden to me. I urge everyone who reads this to come forward and advocate for the much needed change.

We as the youth can do so much, let’s realize and act.

By
Saurabh Pandey
Volunteer from Orissa Engineering College
Bhubaneswar

Humara Bachpan- Through the eyes of an onlooker

Long back in 2003, I was travelling to New Delhi for a family vacation. That was the first time I had seen slums in the outskirts. A long never-ending stretch of jhuggis and people living in areas where only the garbage of the city was being dumped.

It’s been 12 years since then, the slums have not only increased in number but the living conditions have also grown pathetic. Their basic needs are far from being fulfilled.
However, I am really thankful to the HUMARA BACHPAN CAMPAIGN who gave me an opportunity to visit the slums and have an idea of how life really is inside those unfrequented and often neglected lanes. It’s really disheartening that the children there are fighting for their RIGHT TO LIVE, the very basic right which every individual of this country is entitled to.

Every now and then, we talk about the upliftment of the disadvantaged , and with every such conference, we have only been able to increase this gap- the bridge between the rich and the poor.
Adults in closed conference rooms sit and decide what children need, but think about it. It’s just an assumption they make. What children need, what a child perspective is, only a child can put forth that.

.
Passing by those streets, which are hardly 3-ft wide lanes, one can only see the pain in the eyes of every individual who are forced to live there, but what actually struck me is, these YOUNG LEADERS taking the responsibility to get a better place to live. These young children are willing not just to secure their future but also improve the condition of their neighborhood.

Although under the RAJIV AWAS YOJANA(RAY), they have found a roof but has that been enough to get them a sound sleep? A 6ft * 8ft Room? Does this complete their needs? Do they get enough place to even stretch their legs? Assuming their sleep to be sound in those cubicles, what about their sanitation issues? We ask people no to defecate outside, but do they have any other place to do it?

Imagine those days when we have to get up at 4 am to catch a train, painful right?? But for the girls living in slums, it is a way of life to wake up at 4 in the morning to go and finish their business in order to save themselves from embarrassment and harassment.

As if the dearth of basic housing and sanitation facilities wasn’t enough, unavailability of the electricity and unsafe wiring add further to their agony.

I write this not just as an expression of how bad I feel for them, but also to create awareness in the mind of every individual reading this that we cannot make- our city, our state, our country, our world a better place to live if our fellow human beings live in such precarious conditions.

I would like to mention HUMARA BACHPAN CAMPAIGN in for doing such a wonderful job. I thank HUMARA BACHPAN for advocating for the better living conditions of children living in URBAN Slums.

By Hemant Prasad
Volunteer from Orissa Engineering College
Bhubaneswar

1) Life is a game : Play it

I remember how much I loved playing cricket as a child; I played all day long with my friends. When evening dawned, I went for a swimming. – Entertainment-cum-relaxation. When rains poured, I was out calling all my friends and enjoying a match of football drenched in the rains.

Sometimes I recall my childhood with nostalgia and it is in those moments that I sigh with disgust and agony!! What about those children who probably have never enjoyed those moments. Poverty has snatched those very moments of joy.

Is childhood the cost one has to pay, for being born to a low income family. As per statistics, 5% of children under 15 years of age die due to road accidents. Ever wondered why? It’s easy to play the blame game saying “who asked them to play on the roads?” Has anyone ever thought , how important it is for a child to play, to feel the gush of wind against its face as he runs on lush green fields.

Well No!! is what I’m expecting as an answer. Had people thought about it, there wouldn’t have been a dearth of play spaces and no child would have been forced to play on the streets amidst vehicles and traffic.

All of us would unanimously agree that childhood is indeed the best part of every individual’s life. It is highly unfortunate that these children lose their childhood struggling for their basic needs or falling prey to accidents.

Let us all join hands to reach out these children and give them their childhood and a bunch of memories to think and smile when they grow up. Let us take a pledge to ensure that poverty doesn’t steal a child’s happiness.

Let’s urge people to stop giving alms, instead to stand up as child advocates to support these children have a better childhood.

By Hemant Prasad,
Volunteer from Orissa Engineering College
Bhubaneswar
Continue reading

In Conversation with Badal, child leader from Nilamadhab basti.

Badal a 13 year old child leader from Nilamadhab Basti from Bhubaneswar, Odisha who aspires to become an engineer in the future. Born to a single mother who is a peon at an Anganwadi centre. After the demise of his father Badal did not stop dreaming big. He wants his neighbourhood to be clean and incorporate all child friendly components.

  • How long have you been associated with Humara Bachpan Campaign?

I have been associated with them for one and a half years.

• Has it impacted your life in any way?

Yes, we had a lot of problems in the slums earlier with garbage, water, roads, housing but after meeting the mayor and the commissioner things have improved.

• What changes have occurred?

People don’t just litter away anymore. They usually stick to throwing the garbage at one place. Water tanks have been put in the slum as well, so, there is more water and better water available. A few roads have also been built.

• What Humara Bachpan Campaign activities do you like the most?

I liked when we danced, acted and had playing functions. I liked our visit to the Humara Bachpan office. I also liked meeting the mayor and the commissioner.

 In the club, every child’s life has changed for the better.  Just like how my life has changed by being a part of the Humara Bachpan Campaign I am pretty sure that they can do the same elsewhere and I hope that they do.” , mentions Badal smiling from ear to ear.

• Do you feel empowered?

Yes, people listen to us more now, even the elders.

• Do people give you more respect?

Both the Humara Bachpan staff and the people of the slum give us respect. They say that we’re doing very good work.

• Do people in the slum listen to you?When we have problems, we all get together in meetings to discuss them. Both the adults and the children get to speak and get to solutions. They always help us with our work as well,we are not alone in this.

  • Does it become a burden sometimes?

No, it isn’t a burden. In fact our teachers help us too. We fill in applications for leave when we have a Humara Bachpan event and we usually get a leave. So, it works well for us.

• Has engaging in so many activities conducted by the Humara Bachpan Campaign helped in any way?

We all come together and participate in many projects. They have helped make our slum more developed. We act and dance and create awareness. The water problems have reduced.

•  Do you look forward to working with the Humara Bachpan Campaign in the future?

I like working with the Humara Bachpan Campaign. They have treated children well and no matter what they always try and help us. They’re bringing so much change so I would like to work with them. There is still a lot of work to be done. The drains still need to be taken care of, and we need to have better buildings and better roads. I would like to continue working with them.

• Do you think that the Humara Bachpan Campaign can continue to help change your life and the other children’s lives in the future?

In the club, every child’s life has changed for the better.  Just like how my life has changed by being a part of the Humara Bachpan Campaign I am pretty sure that they can do the same elsewhere and I hope that they do.

edited by: Aishwarya Das Pattnaik, Communications Officer, Humara Bachpan Campaign. 

Interview conducted by: Adheip Rashada , Intern with Humara Bachpan Campaign.

Author’s Note: Adheip is an award winning young poet who is currently pursuing his Liberal Arts degree from Symbiosis School of Liberal Arts (SSLA), Pune. His passion includes writing, fund raising among others. 

Glimpse Into The Life Of Anand Pradhan, a child leader from Bhubaneswar.

A dialogue from an Odia film. That was what he recited with as he pulled his shades  before he introduced himself as Anand Pradhan, a child leader from OUAT Farmgate basti. He aspires to become a comedian, “I want to become like Pappu Pom Pom, an Odia comedian and actor”, he says. Currently studying in seventh grade in the Boys High School, Unit-8 in Bhubaneswar. His hobby is to paint. Some of his paintings include a boat sailing in the river as the sun sets in the background, a peacock sitting melancholy on a branch, a rainbow in the sky and a ferocious tiger. He participates in drawing and painting competitions.

He has never won a first prize but with a bright smile said that he had won the third prize once. He loves to play “seka-seki” with several players and a ball, where everybody is running away from the person who has the ball in hand for his job is to hit others with it. Whoever gets hit, picks up the ball and hits another and the chain continues until they are too tired to continue.

 His father is a taxi driver and his mother runs a fast food shop. His elder brother who is in high school helps his mother at times. While his sister is in ninth grade. Anand wants to learn English and studyOdia Literature in college. When asked why he is so keen to learn the English language he said that it is important to speak English in order to be able to communicate fluently with people.

He is very happy to be a part of the Humara Bachpan campaign as he believes that the campaign has given the children a voice which has brought about many essential developments in the slum. Earlier, a water tank was not functional in his neighborhood. The child club members advocated to make water is available to the people. They wrote a letter to the authorities to fix the tank and within five days the tank was fixed. In another instance, they had asked for drain covers and made the authorities construct it. They also once went to the Corporator’s office to complain about three street lamps which were not working. Soon after hearing the plea from the children the Corporator sent a maintenance team to fix the street lights.

Anand (seen in purple) posing along with other child leaders from Bhubaneswar on the occasion of the Road’s Safety Week. He has also been a former participant at the “Children’s Voices on World Bank Safeguards”, a two day consultation held by Bank Information Center (BiC), USA.

Anand feels that the Humara Bachpan campaign is essential for children as it imbibes confidence in them and encourages them to speak up for their needs.

Unity is the true strength,” he says resolutely. He believes that even without support of any NGO or the government, it is possible to bring significant changes in living conditions by community coming together, discussing the challenges and finding solutions to overcome them.

“The change needs to start from our very own house,” he states. He asserted that if every household had a toilet then the problem of open defecation would be solved. This, he thinks, is a change which can be brought about by the people of the slum themselves. “Our mentality must change. I always urge our community members to keep their surroundings clean”, he added

Alcoholics often drink and throw their bottles on the open space that is attached near to their neighborhood overlooking the Biju Patnaik International Airport.  Because of the callous behavior of the people the glass shards prick the feet of the children as they run out to play to this open space.

Anand was actively involved in the mapping initiative conducted by Humara Bachpan at the OUAT Farmgate Basti in Bhubaneswar. The child leaders mapped their entire neighborhood and found out the many amenities that they were deprived of since a long time. Later, the child leaders presented these ‘social maps’ to the Mayor. (Pic: Source: Times of India)

When further enquiring about the how he would want his neighborhood to be like – he elaborated that adequate space between each house; wider roads so that it is easy for the ambulance to enter, fire brigade and other service vehicles to reach the houses when in need; every household should have access to clean water, a personal dustbin where they can dump garbage instead of throwing it into the drains or open spaces among other needs.

Everything Anand says brings a lilting smile to my face as he finally says “Focus on the small things, it is rightly said, the big ones will fall into place!”

(By Madhumoy Satpathy, Intern with the Humara Bachpan Campaign)