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Mountain Children’s Foundation was formed by Aditi P Kaur in 2003, to bring changes in lives of the communities living in mountain state of Uttarakhand. Since inception, the organization’s endeavour is to create a space and environment for sustainable development of communities in partnership with local organizations. MCF is creating a state-wide network of children that can harness the power of collective action to make their voices heard and their concerns noted. It has evolved a model based on cooperation and collaboration among development organizations, building a network of 35 partners across the state, reaching more than 12,000 children in rural villages around Uttarakhand. The challenges being faced by children in mountain communities are not confined to a single issue, so MCF has to work on a spectrum of issues violating child rights, hygiene and sanitation conditions, health, education, environment, governance and disaster preparedness. The MCF’s disaster mitigation and management campaign in 2005 carved out a realm for children in this area. Currently the organization is operating in 16 villages of Vikas Nagar Block in Dehradun district.
The 16 villages in CRY supported project area include 1,239 households with a total population of 7,319. Of these, 53.3% are male and 46.7% are female. There is high percentage of Schedule Caste population which has always been underserved in Uttarakhand. Dehradun district has criticality of Education, Health, Malnutrition and Protection issues. Keeping in view of poor institutional delivery (<55%), there have been huge gaps in health infrastructures and health personnel in the district. Infrastructure and quality in the schools is far below RTE provisions. In terms of severe malnutrition among children, Dehradun district ranks second in Uttarakhand. Besides, this district is also falling under moderately critical district on Child protection issue with more numbers of child labour, child marriage and incidence of crime against children as compared to other district. Since the district is grappled with multiple CR issue with criticality in nature, strategic interventions to address the issues is highly required. The intensity of CR violation is likely to intensify due to recent natural disaster in the state which has impacted all over the state directly and indirectly. A large percent of the population (over 35%) are BPL families. Over 82% of the children do not have Birth Registration Certificates which shows that the right of the child to an identity is not being given. The quality of education is suspect at the basic school level as the number of rooms and teachers are low. There is no PHC in these 16 villages. About 70% of children between 1-5 years age are not enrolled in ICDS centres. Only 200 children go to the anganwadi (pre-primary) centers. In the operational area, 12 villages have anganwadi centers but the number is still not enough to cater to the population in the area. Children in most of the cases stop education after primary schools as there are no high schools in the project area.
- Status change of children in the areas of health, education ,protection or any other children issues identified by the children collective/group themselves.
- Empower children through child led platforms and forums on raising and pursuing issues of children.
- focus on change in behaviour, attitudes and practices of community members towards children.
- Change in the status of children in the areas of health, education ,protection or any other children issues identified by the children collective/group themselves.
- Consultation and Training ( SCT) of key stakeholders on children issues.
- Initiation of filling up RTI application by children on issues affecting them with initial support from project.
The organisation has built good rapport with the communities as well as with children in intervention areas. Through different processes, the organisation has been able to provide required platforms to children to express their voices and views on child rights issues. The organisation has also a young and enthusiastic team who has strong will to take up the CR processes forward and raise the issues at various levels. The organisation has also actively taken up field level surveys on status of toilets, status of ICDS centres, schools, documentation on children voices etc and intends to take up the issues in the coming years with different stakeholders.Health and malnutrition issues have been critical in the district.
The organisation has also published manual on child participation and pictorial on child rights based on their experiences which will be of great use to partners working on child participation in the state. It is the first year wherein children views and forums like the Children Collective meeting place has started being accepted by the duty bearersSome of the major highlights of year 2014 – 15 achievements are as follows:
- Baseline survey undertaken in 16 intervention villages covering 1332 families in the defined intervention area.
- 27 malnourished children were identified, 3 of them were Severely Acute Malnourished children – treatment was facilitated for them.
- Awareness in nutrition was created through two Nutrition Mela which were organized in Manlawala and Sorna project villages in which 39 boys and 49 girls participated. Two elderly males and Two elderly females also participated in the nutrition mela.
- Villages meetings have been regularly conducted in intervention villages on health, nutrition, gender discrimination, sensitization on girl child education etc.
- Toilet survey has been completed in 21 government schools and report prepared. Children’s voices on the condition and access to toilets have been recorded. Teacher’s comments have also been recorded.
- Healthy home surveys conducted in the Pasta, Dhobri and Pasoli project villages. In the entire process of healthy home survey a total of 93 boys and 103 girls participated. To promote healthy hygiene and sanitation, toilets were constructed for 154 families.
- A charter of demand prepared in the form child right manifesto covering demands of children from the potential Panachayati raj members.
- Birth registration certificate has been issued to 1266 children (716 boys and 549 girls).
- 20 Pregnant women registered at the ICDS centre level.
- 2 girl child linked with Nanda Devi Yojna and 20 women’s linked with Indira Gandhi Matritiva Sahyog Yojna (government welfare schemes).
- 45 mother and adolescent girls benefitted from the various government schemes and programmes.
- The child dropout ratio has been addressed by the children collectives, 3 dropout boys were added in the school because of children collective support.
- Workshop with children groups to facilitate process for developing child led indicators.
- Facilitation of village level processes with children groups to identify CR issues and develop child-led indicators.
- To ensure effectiveness of child led platforms, Bal Mela (The children fair/Nutrition Mela will be conducted in child hearing mode where children will be able to learn interfacing with government functionaries and duty bearers.
- Focus will be on hygiene of toilets in 16 villages for improvement in sanitation of the schools, which shall facilitate retention of drop-outs .
- Sensitization meeting of children and communities on Child Rights. Issues of discrimination at various level identified - food practices/choices of schooling etc.. and shared at community level.
- Strengthening of existing Bal panchayats through regular meetings and follow up.
- Facilitate child-participation process to identify issues of discrimination at various level ( family to Institutions) and voices documented and shared.
- Initiate process of filing RTI by children groups on the identified issues at village level by group itself with initial support provided by MCF functionaries.
- To undertake follow up survey, impact analysis and documentation of child rights issues like immunization, birth registration, nutrition status, enrolment and retention and sharing the findings with concerned stakeholders.
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