Butterflies has been working with street-connected children since 1989 and have been a ChildHope partner for over a decade. Their focus areas are education and vocational training, development of life skills, financial management and health. Butterflies also has a research, advocacy and training wing and is an active participant in national and international networks for advocating and promoting policies, programmes and actions to protect the rights of children. Children are given their own prominent voice in the advocacy work through the children’s media projects Butterflies runs.
Here you can read the stories of some of the children Butterflies has worked with.
"People in my village had a very apathetic attitude towards education and neither did they motivate their children to participate in these programmes. Alcoholism is a major problem in our village; the majority of people spend their earnings on alcohol and children waste their money on eating junk food. People hardly saved money so I felt the need to explain the importance of saving to my family and villagers.
After mobilising a few other children and people in my village, I conducted a meeting about the CDK programme. I made pamphlets and printed slogans saying, “Children in other villages are learning to save money, when will we learn?” I invited CDK members and their parents from another village to share their experience. Listening to the experiences of these children and parents had a profound impact on the people in my village.
Gradually, people became motivated and began to show interest in the CDK programme. Chandan Bhaiya and I then explained the process of CDK to them, its benefits, the need to save and how CDK can help us bring our village out of the darkness of alcoholism. We had to fight a lot to convince parents to start a CDK programme in our village, but now enough parents are convinced and are allowing their children to be a part of the CDK programme.
“For many years my family has sold local rice beer (hadiya) for 10 days at a fair organised in our village every year. We made a good profit from this business but my view of our business changed after attending a CDK international workshop in 2014. At the workshop Ms. Rita Panicker explained about ethical and unethical business practices. It was then when I realised that our family’s business was unethical. Instead of eradicating the problem of alcoholism, our business was contributing to it. People were not only harming their health but alcohol also fuelled fights and domestic violence. My conscience was activated and so I tried to explain to my parents how unethical our business was. Our business was profitable for us but harmful for our society.
“After some debate, I managed to convince my parents and they decided to change their business. I started to develop the idea of starting a more constructive food business selling healthy home cooked food at low cost. Seeing food as a daily need for people and they should invest in healthy food, I thought this business would be good. We tested how it would do at a fair and thankfully it did well. I won my parents’ trust and now I am planning to expand the business further. With the help of Chandan Bhaiya I prepared a more detailed business plan and presented it to CDK members at the international workshop. Their feedback and suggestions helped a lot in improving my plan.
“I took a development advance from CDK to start the business and for the last two years we have been earning a good profit. I am thankful to the CDK international workshop for giving me the knowledge about ethical and unethical business, business strategies and skills and helping me to become an ethical entrepreneur.”
“My second elder brother is addicted to drugs. He doesn’t do any work to earn money. He steals things with his gang of friends. I have tried to tell my father and brothers about its harmful effects but they never pay any attention to me. They come home drunk and then it is war at home. Often my mother is the victim getting beaten by them, particularly by my father. It has been like this my whole childhood. She has never experienced peace in her life: I am the only consolation to her. At the same time, her fear is that I will take the same path as my father and brothers.
“What stops me from falling into such habits is my association with Butterflies. I participate in most of the activities organised at the centre. I am particularly interested in the Child Health Co-operative. I was chosen as the Child Health Educator of the Child Development Centre (CDC). After the training, I have cleaned and dressed the wounds of several children in the CDC and in the community. In one instance, I saw a child bleeding after he got hurt running. I approached him and told him that it would become septic if it is not cleaned and dressed properly. He did not know what to do. He was not a member of the CDC. I told him that I can help him: I went to the centre and came with the first aid box and cleaned and dressed his wounds. He was happy and thanked me. My mother who saw what happened was really happy too. It was one of the rare moments in life that I saw a smile on the face of my mother.
“Since then, her dream is seeing me as a doctor. She always speaks to me about it. In a way, that motivates me to learn more about health issues, various diseases and treatments for them. I used to share with her whatever knowledge I gained from being a member of Child Health Co-operative: that 8 glasses of water per day is essential for the good health of children; that there are six to eight steps involved in washing hands properly; the importance of clean surroundings at home. With the help of Butterflies, I believe that one day I will be a successful doctor.
“I am able to speak to you like this only because of the protective environment Butterflies provided me to grow up in. I am sure I would never have been to school. I would not have received so much respect and encouragement if I were not associated with Butterflies. I would have been like the other children in the area, who are addicted to drugs and alcohol. I was at a higher risk as my father and brothers were addicted. Today I feel confident enough to deal with household problems. I am more focused in my studies and health now.”
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