TN-based non-profit celebrates its journey, students
CHENNAI: Hand in Hand, a non-profit in Kancheepuram has been working towards eliminating child labour and empowering these children, along with those hailing from underprivileged backgrounds, through education. The organisation is celebrating its 20 years today and alumni members from various districts of Tamil Nadu will participate in the celebration.
Speaking to DT Next, Dr Kalpana Sankar, managing trustee of Hand in Hand, says, “Looking back at how far we’ve come, I’m very grateful to God, donors and my team for making my life worthwhile. I never knew the programme would reach this magnitude and create the sort of impact it has. And the proof of this is the alumni meet.
“When I met each of them, they were very fragile and weak, without any direction in life. Now, they are strong, confident and self-reliant individuals. They are able to not only take care of themselves but also their families. So, seeing all of this makes me feel like the programme has achieved its purpose.”
The organisation was founded in 2004, with the help of two Swedish nationals, to make education accessible to the children belonging to tribal communities in villages and provide skill training for employment.
Talking about their Child Labour Elimination Programme she says, “The main agenda of the CLEP is to give the children their lost childhood. Children love to play and enjoy being with their peers rather than toiling in the sun as a labourer. I’ve seen children as small as five crying because they didn’t want to work. They undergo a lot of hardships at a very young age.
“As a part of the programme, we identify kids who have never been to school. We talk to the parents and the local stakeholders- like the village teachers and panchayat officials to make them realise the importance of education. Through this we’ll bring the child back to normalcy and make them believe in education,” she says.
She says initially only 30 per cent of these children were able to adapt to residential schools and about 70 per cent dropped out. The schools were also not ready to receive these children. The organisation then collaborated with Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan. After identifying areas of problem and counselling students, the children became more involved in the process. Over the years Hand in Hand has enrolled over 5000 students in its residential schools and provided them with education and life skills.
In the alumni meet success stories and students will be recognised for their talent and be awarded and named brand ambassadors. “We want these kids to carry on this work in their respective geographies. This will make sure more lives are changed for the better,” she adds.
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