UVA advocates a child-centric approach to all processes of governance by creating safe and enabling communities, which ensure children the right to survival, development, protection and participation. We encourage children to explore their own abilities by creating platforms where they are able to express their opinions, organize themselves as citizens and advocate for their rights. Our current work is with children in informal settlements, resettlement colonies and government schools. Outlined below are four unique methods developed by YUVA to engage with children in informal settlements:
Early childhood care (0-6 years)
To fulfil the unmet demand for early childhood healthcare and education in informal settlements, YUVA has set up balwadis (childcare centres) that function like government anganwadis of the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS). The balwadis attempt to combat malnourishment by providing nutritious food and growth monitoring to approximately 300 children. Most of the children enrolled in the balwadis are registered at the nearest ICDS centres and later enrolled in school. Towards this purpose, preschool education is imparted with the aim of aiding children to enter the formal education system after the age of 6. Through consistent advocacy and dialogue with government agencies, we aim to formally integrate these balwadis with the ICDS.
YUVA has initiated 6 balwadis in the P (North) Ward of Mumbai and 6 balwadis in Navi Mumbai
- Besides the children, women from the community have been trained and employed as balwadi workers.
- ‘Chalo Chalo School Chalo’, a campaign to enrol children aged between 6 and 14 in neighbourhood schools, manages to reach out to over 200 children each year.
School Monitoring Committees have been formed with representation from parents and children, where trainings have been conducted on different issues like nutrition, health and education
Child Resource Centres (6-14 years)
YUVA’s work in Mumbai’s rehabilitated settlements includes the establishment of Child Resource Centres (CRCs) to enhance children’s access to education, recreation, health and protection. The CRC is accessed by children in varied circumstances; these include school-going children and children who do not access formal education (school drop outs, children involved in rag picking and girls who are prevented from attending school). The purpose of the CRC is to create a secure space for holistic development of children living in informal settlements; whereby they can, among other things, address the core vulnerabilities which might arise from dropping out from school, sexual abuse, substance abuse and trafficking. Some of the basic facilities and activities at the CRC include, a reading library, digital learning, educational games and sports for development.
YUVA runs 4 CRCs in different locations of Mumbai.
The children of Sathe Nagar CRC have initiated a savings mechanism called ‘Boond Bank’, which they operate independently to support themselves.
Bal Adhikar Sangarsh Sangathan
Bal Adhikar Sangarsh Sangathan (Collective for the Struggle for Child Rights) is collectively owned and run by children in the communities where YUVA works. Initiated two decades ago, this collective unites children, builds solidarity and mobilises them to claim their rights. At the community level child leaders are elected, who collaborate to negotiate and demand services from the local police, elected representatives, Community Based Organisations, youth groups and women’s groups. This develops leadership among children at an early age and instils in them an attitude to work on issues that affect them and those around them.
- YUVA facilitates 10 BASS collectives throughout Mumbai
Safe Communities for Children
YUVA works in Lallubhai Compound, a resettlement colony in Mumbai, to evolve a model for safe communities in the urban context through participatory interventions. Children map and study their communities, identify advocacy needs and build their capacities to address safety issues in their communities.
Through sustained advocacy, children were able to reclaim a playground in Lallubhai Compound that was frequented by drug addicts. With the support of police and local adults, they now use this space for playing and recreation on a regular basis.