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Location

55 Villages of Sirmour district, Himachal Pradesh, India.


Background

People’s Action for People in Need [PAPN], is a non-profit organisation registered under the Societies Registration Act. Established in 1982 by a group of young professionals with the idea of facilitating sustained rural development through education and community awareness for marginalised sections of society. The first intervention of PAPN - a socio-economic study of Sangrah development block was conducted during 1985, followed by a small field level intervention focused on awareness building activities on education in a few villages of Sangrah block. The inaccessible parts of Shillai block were also included in the operational area during the year 1989 to reach out to non-school going children through introduction of Non-Formal Education Programs with support from the Ministry of Human Resource Development. PAPN is operating in 5 Panchayats and 2 blocks of Sangraha and Ponta of Sirmour districts in Himachal Pradesh.

Situation

The 55 reference villages have been selected keeping in mind the difficult terrain and accessibility issues related to health care and nutrition services from the health department. A preliminary assessment of government institutions, schools and Anganwadi Centers (AWCs) has also been done. All the above mentioned hamlets/ villages are majorly inhabited by the scheduled caste community with poor socio-economic conditions. Sangrah and Shillai Blocks fall under the Trans-Giri region of Sirmour District of Himachal Pradesh, which is comparatively less developed and inaccessible with the poor socio-economic status of the inhabitants. The whole Project area is hilly and rural with its eastern border with the tribal belt of Jaunsar-Bawar of Uttarakhand State. The district has very low literacy rate especially among women and girls. Physical/sexual exploitation of women and girls is very common in the area. Prevalence of social evils such as child marriage, alcoholism, rigid caste divisions and superstitions are seen in the area. Health care facilities are inadequate and non functional. Widespread poverty and unproductive agriculture, results in poor socio-economic status of the community. There is a shortage of safe drinking water, fodder, fuel wood as well as unhygienic sanitation facilities which makes the health condition of children more vulnerable. Some other prominent issues in terms of violation of child rights are – engagement of children in domestic and industrial labor, physical and mental abuse of children in the workplace, diseases due to occupational hazards.

Objectives

  • To activate government healthcare institutions like Integrated, Primary Health Centers, Sub Centers, Auxiliary Nursing Midwife (ANM) etc.
  • To strengthen community based institutions such as mothers group, village level coordination committees for community monitoring of healthcare institutions and personnel.
  • To activate public education system through proper implementation of (Right to Education).
  • To strengthen community based institutions such as School Management Committees to facilitate a sustainable model of education.
  • To sensitize the communities on children’s right to equal opportunities of education, irrespective of gender.
  • Profiling of children in labor and addressing underlying causes for mainstreaming them in public schools.
  • Sensitizing and empowering communities for ensuring proper education system through local self governance.
  • Sensitizing communities including adolescent girls groups on the ill effects of early marriage.

Achievements & Impact in the Review Period


The team has been actively working on child rights issues in Himachal Pradesh for a long time and has built a reputation of a well organised, rights based organisation. They have implemented programs on girl child education, strengthening local self governance, women's empowerment etc in an effective manner. In the last year, advocacy on child rights at various levels resulted in recruitment of school teachers, upgradation of schools and infrastructure development. Based on the learnings, the team has taken up protection issues including identification of child labor, child marriage and rescuing children from child labor. Main achievements last year include the following:

  • Birth registration done for 160 newborn children in 5 Panchayats and 56 children received birth certificates.
  • Community raised demand for the opening of Anganwadi centres in Katkhada and Kunna villages/hamlets.
  • In 5 Panchayats, 7 toilets were renovated.

  • 15 “out of school” children started attending schools on regular basis.
  • Continuous interactions with the SCPCR (State Commissions for Protection of Child Rights) on the issue of child protection during the year.
  • 2 child sexual abuse cases addressed and stopped.
  • 6 child laborers rescued from Nahan Dadahu and mainstreamed.
  • 12 families got employment under MGNREGA after the team’s intervention.
  • Awareness drives on child marriage - 8 child marriages were stopped with the involvement of Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRI) members.
  • Meetings with children’s groups were organized in all 5 Panchayats and they were oriented about the importance of education and ill effects of child marriage.
  • 18 children’s groups / Bal Panchayats have been formed and are functional.

Success story


Neelam is a 17-year old girl from a poor dalit family. They are 6 sisters and a brother - she is the 4th child of her parents. She was taken out of school 2 years back when she was in the 8th grade. 2 of her sisters have got married, 3 other sisters are still in school while her brother goes to the ICDS centre as he is a small child. Her father is a daily wage laborer and the only breadwinner for the family & they are poor. Being the eldest of her siblings currently (2 sisters elder to her have got married), she had to manage all the household chores and take care of her siblings as well, including taking pets for grazing and getting firewood from nearby areas. She was taken out of school so that she could take care of her younger siblings at home. When she was 16, a marriage offer had come for her from a family that was economically better off than hers. But her parents refused it as they wanted her to continue to manage the household chores and take care of her younger siblings. Thinking she will be better off if married and would have to do less of household work, Neelam ran away with her prospective groom. The community workers from PAPN came to know about this incident from the ICDS workers and children’s

collective members. The team immediately got in touch with Neelam’s parents and started talking to them about the fact that Neelam could not get married legally as she was still under-age and also about the harmful effects of early marriage on her health. Though hesitant at first, Neelam’s parents agreed to accept her back home as the community workers made them understand the gravity of the situation for Neelam. The team also interacted with local government functionaries like Panchayat officials, ICDS Supervisor & workers and all of them agreed to the need of getting Neelam back home. Thereafter they called the Childline number and sought their help and intervention in tracing Neelam and getting her back. A joint team of Childline and PAPN went to meet Neelam at her in-laws’ place, where she had eloped and had dialogues with her in-laws. They had to explain the ills of early marriage and that as Neelam and her prospective groom were both under-aged, her marriage was not valid legally and they could be punished by law. That made them agree to send Neelam back home. The team members ensured that the boy’s parents and his elder brother put it in writing that they will get him married with Neelam as and when they both become adults (18 years for girls & 21 years for boys). Currently Neelam is back home with her own parents, and is planning to join a course on knitting & stitching .

Plans


The following are the plans for the coming year:


[1] Protection

Focus 1: Building state analysis on child rights for laying strategy under different programs.

  • Desk level analysis of child protection by an academic institution.
  • Support RTE (Right To Education) consultation for networking and consultation.
  • Visits to Cluster 1 (Kangra, Chamba, Mandi and Unna) to identify people and geographies.

Focus 2: Capacity building of the team on factors leading to child marriage and discovering the socio-economic and cultural ethos related to it.

  • Knowledge Attitude and Practice (KAP) study on socio-cultural-economic determinants of child marriage.
  • Capacity building of the team on child marriage through participation in workshops.

Focus 3: Strengthen child protection mechanism in all 5 panchayats of Sirmour districts.

  • Capacity building of team members on Integrated Child Protection Scheme through a 3 day workshop.
  • Activate committees like Village Level Child Protection Committee (VLCPC), Block Child Protection Committee (BCPC) and District Child Protection Unit (DCPU).
  • Community level awareness sessions on child marriage.
  • Tracking of adolescent girls and their education status in all 5 Panchayats.
  • Regular outreach with families of girls to create awareness on the importance of education.
  • Exploration of vocational activities and linking girls completing their schooling with vocational courses and government income generation programs.

Focus 4: Advocacy on district and state level on the issues of child protection

  • Filing (Right to Information) RTI to identify the gaps in the (Integrated Child Protection Services) ICPS structure in the 5 Panchayats as well as at district level and reporting the gaps.

ANNUAL FINANCIAL SUMMARY

  • Right to Protection
    $13,767
  • Administration
    $5,963
  • Total Grant Approved
    $19,730