Chennai: Hand in Hand, a Chennai-based not-for-profit organization, was recently presented with Bal Kalyan Puraskar award for their work in the area of child rights and child labour elimination.
Hand in Hand started as a small NGO aiming to eradicate child labour in Kancheepuram district. Speaking to Deccan Chronicle after returning to Chennai, Dr Kalpana Sankar, chairperson, Hand in Hand, said, “There were several weavers’ children who had also become workers for a meagre sum of Rs 5,000-6,000. We followed a child-centric approach but quickly realised that broader social mobilisation was the key. In October 2004, the organisation
shifted its focus to the community, and eradication of poverty as a whole.”
The NGO took upon itself to first ensure that children’s childhoods are given back to them. Hand in Hand now works with 1165 panchayats across the country, ensuring education to children. As of December 2018, 312,519 children have been mainstreamed in government schools. They recently even started seven residential schools.
Kalpana says that “the children who study in these seven schools rarely meet their parents. They may not be in the picture because they are nomads, or maybe even because of external elements like alcoholism.”
Our model has been successfully replicated in Afghanistan, South Africa, Kenya, Brazil, Sri Lanka and Cambodia. “We are now being used as a resource centre by the government. The Hand in Hand India team has drawn experts from various fields like agriculture, rural development, microfinance, education, business management, and research professionals. The
committed workforce of around 1,183 employees, with a core team of 170
people, and above 16,000 volunteers who are led by professionally trained and experienced management team ensures our passion and vision remain focused,” she says.