“I always thought I knew about myself but these sessions made me think about lots of things that I had never thought of before. Now I know that as a child no one should exploit or take undue advantage of me due to my age”. (Child Rights Club participant)
Through the grant, the project worked directly with almost 10,000 street-connected children in 2016, many of whom are members of the Children’s Development Khazana (bank) (CDK) and Child Health Co-operatives (CHC) programme, which operates through 23 associate partners in eight nations – India, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Nepal, Tajikistan, Madagascar, Kyrgystan and Ghana. Butterflies also has a thriving programme in Delhi. Butterflies’ work with girls has increased significantly during the lifetime of the grant and the team is observing increased emphasis on the importance of girls’ education among the girls themselves, their families, communities and teachers.
During 2016, the children involved in the CDK/CHC programme (2513 boys and 2087 girls) participated in 568 life skills sessions, with a strong focus this year on vocational training and business planning. The children also took part in collective action that they designed themselves, to bring about change in their lives – for example, in Delhi, a group of children made a presentation to the Mayor about the water and sanitation issues they had identified in their neighbourhood. This has resulted in the Municipal Corporation repairing a public toilet, regularly cleaning the local area and providing dustbins. It can still be difficult, though, to get officials to take notice of, and agree to have meetings with, children.
Although it is not always easy to build the trust and cooperation of a school or education department, Butterflies has successfully developed partnerships with twelve schools, which allow Child Rights Clubs to be introduced and sessions to take place with children to increase their awareness of their rights, as well as enabling meetings with parents. In 2016, Butterflies reached 1,034 parents in this way. By encouraging parents to become members of school management committees the project is reducing parents’ suspicion of ‘the authorities’ and increasing schools’ understanding of, and interest in, the needs of children who are struggling to catch up following periods out of school.
It is crucial to Butterflies that children not only access services, but also have a say in their lives, and they build children’s participation into all their activities. Some children choose, when they are ready, to play a more active role through rights clubs and networks, and in 2016 598 boys and 319 girls were active participants in groups that aim to influence decision making.
They also remember that children are children and, while their engagement in decision-making is important, they still need to have time for fun and relaxation. Butterflies engages children in theatre, radio, newspaper, film, art, sport and play throughout their work, and in 2016, 1948 boys and 1644 girls participated in these activities.
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