Over the last decade, Aangan’s work with rescued, runaway, abused and accused children living in state run institutions has forced us to repeatedly ask the question: What causes children to end up in the state’s custody in the first place?

 

When we listen to children it becomes apparent that it is the ignored, seemingly everyday incidents – and not dramatic events – that drive children to run away from the protection of family and home. Violence at home, harsh discipline at home or in school, illness of a family member, promises by relatives or boyfriends for a “better life” and the pressure to earn, are some of what cause children’s entry into a downward spiral - running away from home, getting trafficked, or abused, or being trapped in brutal work conditions, and perhaps sometimes a rescue that leads to institutionalization.

 

Research shows that isolation, exclusion and lack of access to services are deeply linked to children being trafficked, or forced into hazardous work, or into child marriage and other harmful situations.

 

Aangan’s programs focus on reducing the risks that children and adolescents face, and promoting their wellbeing through the creation of safety plans, support networks and improved access to community and government services.

 

                                                      Program Shakti for Girls          Program Chauraha for Boys

Shakti                       Chauraha

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Chauraha

Twelve year-old Ramesh attends school when he can. On most days he works as a daily wage laborer. On days he doesn’t earn he prefers to stay out with friends, fearing a beating at home. 50% of boys in India, many in situations like Ramesh’s drop out of school between Class 1 and Class 8.
 

Listening Large

 

For boys in dangerous and difficult situations

Health risks, injury and casual brutality are a part of the daily life of millions of boys who work outside the regulatory gaze in garbage dumps, railway platforms, construction sites, mines and factories. As they cross into their late teens, they are often supporting their families single handedly and have to bear the pressure of earning a living for survival.

 

A study by Save the Children UK (2007) shows that most children who resort to dangerous adaptive strategies do so only when they do not know any other way to survive. 97% of juvenile offences are committed as survival strategies by boys under pressure to earn a living.

 

The Chauraha Process:

Safe Spaces: Aangan runs neighborhood drop-in Youth Centers where young boys come to unwind, learn, talk and do group work on risk-related themes, envisioning and planning for a different future.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Access to Services: Through the Chauraha GO book children identify the key risks that they face as well as the people, influences and factors that are protective.Plans are developed to ensure access to health, educational and other basic services including de-addiction, counseling, government schools or hospitals.

 

Community and Family Connectedness: We organize parent meetings and community events where police, parents, neighbors, role models and potential employers interact with boys, who are typically marginalized and viewed only as “troublemakers”.Strong community linkages and collective action help young boys change their self-image, alter their peer relationships and come to be recognized as change-makers by their families and communities

 

Access to opportunities: We help children escape hazardous work and plan a different future through educational and vocational training. This includes mentorship in the planning phase, the involvement of parents, and assistance in implementing the initial steps in their life plans.

 

 

 

 

 

Shakti

"My brother and uncle told me, ‘Either set yourself on fire or we will have to kill you.’” So Khushboo set herself on fire, and when she recovered, sheran away and got married and was later brought to court when her family filed kidnapping charges against her in-laws. “Who else will marry me anyway, when I look like this? At least my in-laws know I burnt for their son. They will take care of me,” she says.
 
 

Listening Large

 

Shakti is a Hindi word meaning “feminine strength and power.” The Shakti program empowers and builds the resilience of disadvantaged, vulnerable girls by enabling them to design and run their own community projects. By doing this they experience the power of collective action, and become conscious of their ability to drive change both in their communities, and in their own lives.

 

In 2012, 90% of Shakti girls developed a safety plan, recognized threatening individuals and situations; and identified a person to contact for assistance in case of crisis.

 

The Shakti process

Aangan uses a replicable model with tools that can be used to empower vulnerable girls in high-risk neighborhoods across India.

Reaching vulnerable girls: Peer leaders and community girls themselves refer and induct more girls into the group—be it friends, sisters, neighbors or cousins. “We know the ones who don’t go to school or have no friends or who are having a hard time at home.”

 

 

 

Inspiring and Informing: The Shakti workbook offers a 14-session program that combines creative activities, discussions, and assignments. Small groups of five to ten girls do a workbook together with a peer leader. The workbook is designed to take girls on a journey starting with looking at “the self:”` dreams, study and work aspirations, personal safety relationships as well as help them understand their broader, macro-environment to include information on rights, women’s movements and their community.

 

Activating Groups: By the time the workbook is finished, Shakti girls have developed their own community projects. From anti-child marriage projects to educational drives and sanitation, community projects help Shakti girls to connect with their communities on different levels.

 

 

Sustaining Peer support networks: Shakti Circles, driven by peer leaders, ensure that girls stay motivated about their educational and vocational goals as well as their community projects. The Shakti Peer Leader Training Toolkit helps ensure that Shakti Circles combine fun, updates, incentives and rewards along with exercises to “rehearse” challenging situations at home, in school or in society.

   

Why we work with institutionalized children?

Although children in institutions are in the protective care of the state, ironically they are among the most vulnerable, invisible and voiceless children in the country. Institutions are notoriously badly run spaces where children face neglect and even abuse, and where their access to health, education, and other entitlements are not ensured.