Amid the coronavirus pandemic, while children from middle and higher sections of society are at home with access to laptops and other technology, those from the underserved sections face the bulk of their problems within their homes. Most of them are from their schools and have no safe space.
Over time, this will lead to the emergence of severe problems like child labour and child marriage, the latter being a common feat among girls. This is why child education until the age of 18 is very important.
Save the Children, India is an independent child rights NGO that works in 14 states. Beginning its journey in 2008 in India, it claims to have impacted the lives of more than 11 million (1.1 crore) children. The international factions of the NGO work in over 120 countries.
Amid the pandemic, they have been trying hard to provide children with the much-needed nutrition and with educational opportunities in some small ways. They have also been aiding their families that have been equally impacted by the pandemic.
“Since 2020, we have reached nearly 15 lakh children and their families, impacting about six lakh children across the length and breadth of India with our COVID-19 response. During the second wave, we launched our mission to protect an additional one million children and families across 12 states, two UTs, and 57 districts,” Sudarshan Suchi, CEO, Save the Children, India tells SocialStory.
With schools closed, the children also lost on getting a regular and balanced meal. The second big hit was the lack of a safe, public space, and students also couldn’t have a guaranteed social interaction outside of their homes.
“So, the big question – under these contexts is, how do we get the children to maintain at least some parts of this new normal?” Sudarshan notes.
Through its ‘ProtectAMillion’ mission, Save the Children, India has worked with anganwadis to ensure that the children continue receiving a secure meal. They opened some of the activity centres after the lockdown was partially lifted.
With social distancing and other restrictions, the NGO enlisted volunteers and teachers to attend to children and try to continue some of the learning activity. These were done at some of the activity centres arranged by the organisation.
They also developed educational and life skills material to engage children and see how they could supplement their learning with technology.
Some members of the leadership teams decided to reach out to promising children, who were called ‘Child Champions,’ to demystify COVID-19 myths and create a sense of responsibility.
“During the pandemic, it has been quite a challenge to provide consistency, predictability, and safety day-after-day in the lives of the underserved children, especially in terms of nutrition, education and other things that safeguard them,” says Sudarshan.
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