Someone once said, “There is a garden in every childhood, an enchanted place where colours are brighter, the air softer, and the morning more fragrant than ever". And yet, there is a large number of children who have never known the carefree abandon of childhood owing to poverty, disease or parental ignorance. Acquainting them with the fun of growing up, equipping them with emotional and practical skills to face the big bad world and providing them that precious shelter from the vicissitudes of life are numerous NGOs in the city, working for children.
Child Fund Association, Jayanagar, is one such organisation dedicated to the welfare of orphans and destitute children from extremely poor families. About seventy five children are provided with food, shelter, clothes, medical care and education to help them believe in a better tomorrow. Regularly-conducted group-singing sessions, bhajans, dances and folk songs make the children culturally active and help brighten up their lives.
Nearly 1800 children attend schools and tuition centres run by HOPE Foundation, an independent affiliate of HOPE Worldwide Limited. Apart from looking after orphans and aiding adoptions, the foundation also runs Aids Home, a home for the orphans, and Ashakiran, a programme for the mentally-challenged children.
Striking a more practical note is Unnati, an organisation that believes in empowering the underprivileged kids with vocational training in addition to high-school education. With courses being offered in tailoring, retail and field sales, the project retains the focus on survival and self-dependence.
Child labour is a bane that has afflicted the society for ages and Concerned for Working Children (CWC) strives towards total eradication of child labour in all sectors. This private development organisation also works to arrest migration from rural to urban areas by reviving traditional occupations and enhancing earning opportunities for people in the villages. The organisation’s current projects include, Gramashrama—a micro rural-development project—and Ankur, an effort that tries to mitigate child labour in urban areas.
Ashraya, an organisation founded in 1982 is another city-based large-scale project dedicated to child welfare. The organisation believes in finding solutions for children within the framework of their own biological families or, at best, in adoptive homes. Ashraya has a few programmes running under its aegis.
Ashraya Childrens’ Home, for instance, offers temporary care to children of families going through difficult times. Ashraya Site Crèches are located on construction sites to provide children of migrant labourers with a safe haven within the site itself while initiating literacy and craft training. Neelbagh Residential School, situated 100 kilometres from Bangalore, equips the children of migrant labourers with vocational training including the normal school curriculum. Temporary Shelter for Lost Children and 'TARA', Ashraya Women's Centre are other initiatives by this organisation.
Numerous other organisations like CRY, Smile Foundation and Karnataka State Council for Child Welfare are intent on ameliorating the plight of kids, thus restoring the lost sparkle in the eyes and the forgotten tinkle in the laughter of destitute children.