DISHA – PREVENTING CHILD LABOR
The Firozabad district of Uttar Pradesh is home to the glass and bangle making industry of India. Unfortunately, it is also home to a large incidence of child labor. About 50,000 children are reported to be involved in this work. Further, the situation is complicated and tricky because it is mostly parents who involve children in their bangle making units. The nature of work requires no advanced skills or expertise, which means it is easy to train even very young children.
Families prefer the trade despite its low returns, because it still generates more and regular cash income than marginal farming or agricultural wages. The economic compulsions and perhaps relative lack of sensitivity has turned parents into exploiters of their own children. They willingly or unwillingly, wake up their children at 3a.m. to begin work. Bangle making is done in small, crowded, dark rooms with no ventilation and air circulation (it is important that there is no air to keep the flame from flickering). This creates various health hazards for children and adults.
Disha is a major initiative of ChildFund India since 1994 to promote sustainable community-based strategies for the prevention of this child labor. It is committed to bring children out of the clutch of labor by providing health, educational and livelihood support. Briefly, it addresses two issues – child labor, and factors contributing to it and its consequences. The KC Mahindra Education Trust, UNICEF and INDUS have previously supported this initiative.
The project is being implemented in 8 slums of Firozabad. Two of these are inhabited by the socially marginalized scavenger’s community.
The Project Includes:
- Community mobilization and capacity building
- Formation of parent’s groups and women’s self-help groups
- Sensitization of the community regarding child labor; mobilizing public opinion against child
- Campaigns to enroll children in school
- Formation of children’s forums
- Running non-formal and pre-school centers within the community to rehabilitate child workers
- Providing curative and preventive health care facilities to child workers and their families
- Providing recreational, cultural and skill development opportunities to children and adolescents
- Establishing linkages with government and non-government facilities and resources
- Mainstreaming disability issues in all the fields of work
- Four model centers are offering integrated child development services to slum children.
- A sustainable livelihoods center called “DAKSH” is offering a multi-solution approach. Under one roof it provides library services, vocational training in tailoring, beauty and IT, and coaching on personality development, spoken English, and entrepreneurship. Additionally, it promotes and provides a national platform for youth and Self-Help Group federations.
- 25 youth clubs are helping to engage young people in community service.
- 16 clubs are ensuring literacy, numeracy and life skills for children in the operational area. They seek to increase children’s engagement in school and out-of-school activities to extricate them from home based labor.