HEARDS-Integrated Program for Elimination of Child Labour

Project Location (S) Chittoor
Organization Health Education Adoption Rehabilitation Development Society
Project Status Completed
Beneficiaries 120 children
Address # 15-2366, Johns Garden,
Palamner Road,
Chittoor, 517002
Andhra Pradesh
Project Liaison Contact Vibha Project Lead

The Health Education Adoption Rehabilitation Development Society (HEARDS) was founded in Aug ’99 by a group of social workers dedicated towards eradication of poverty in Chittoor district, Andhra Pradesh, India. The main vision and mission of this project is to eradicate child labor and to facilitate the holistic growth of every individual in this district via education, equality and liberation from poverty. This dynamic society aims at serving the developmental needs of the ‘poorest-of’the-poor’ in this district. Various programs are in place to meet the socio-economic, educational, cultural, health and medical needs of all age groups in the target population.

Drought and famine are a part and parcel of life in Chittoor district, owing to a dry climate and scanty rainfall. Crop cultivation is limited to a few months, leading to only seasonal employment with very low wages. The environment is plagued by various insecticides, flies, unhealthy sanitation system, water scarcity, poor drainage system, small crowded rooms occupied by large number of family members including dependent children. Most members of a family lead idle lives and often fall prey to gangs and anti-social behavior, resulting in children having to work as laborers to add to their family income. Project co-ordinator Mr. Kuriakose Santy and 3 others work actively towards identifying child laborers around and talking to concerned employers and parents to enable them to stop work and join school.

VIBHA, along with the HEARDS and the National Child Labor Project Special School, with the support of the National Child Labor project of the Govt. of India, caters to the educational needs of 64 children between the ages of 5-14. There are 2 centers C.B. Road Center and Thotapalyam Center, where these children are educated between the grade levels of 1 and 4, by a total of 7 teachers. The children are placed at the grade level appropriate to their learning abilities and skills. Traditional classroom methods, vocational training, practical science, and educational software are employed to teach the children, with a new computer training program. Regular medical check-ups and a daily lunch program are other important features of this program. The program also provides for two sets of uniforms for the children. In order to develop the knowledge and consciousness of nationalism, patriotism and integrity among the children, national holidays are celebrated at each center.

One of the factors indicating the success of this program is evidenced by the fact that so far, 33 children have been successful mainstreamed into regular schools. An attendance register maintained at each center shows that on an average, about 91% of the children attended the centers during the working days. The Project Coordinator and staff are striving hard to make the attendance to 100%.

Project animators meet regularly with parents of working children to motivate them to extend their cooperation to get these children access to essential education, basic nutrition and primary health. The cooperation of parents is critical to the success of this project, so parents of the child laborers are educated on the adverse effects of child laboring. Awareness campaigns are conducted in the community to help eradicate child labor and stress the importance of education with special emphasis on the girl child. Parents themselves are educated and helped to improve their lives in several ways.

Some of the other achievements of this program include:

  1. Setting up of 5 Adult literacy centers
  2. Formation of self-help groups -- Micro entrepreneurship program
  3. Vocational training -- Candle Making, Basket weaving, Sewing, Talcum Powder Making, Soap Making etc
  4. Women’s rights and welfare
  5. Health care – AIDS awareness, Vaccination drives etc
  6. Campaign for Education
  7. Environmental awareness – Water management, Tree Plantations, Effective waste disposal
  8. Seminars & Workshops on Human Rights issues and minority rights.
  9. Safe drinking water program -- Safe and potable water for healthy drinking and other utilization to 112 families of the target village through support of the Cottonwood foundation, U.S.A

Significant progress has been made by HEARDS in reducing child labor and protection of child rights. While much good work has been done, both the community and parents have a long way to go towards changing their attitudes around the all round development of young children. VIBHA has been active in its support, cooperation and funding (over $30,000 to date), towards the educational and personal development of these needy children. The long-term goals are to: (a) To establish social norms for the total elimination of child labor and universalization of education. (b) To have all children enroll in the schools and retain them through the period of education (c) To create awareness on, and reduce the incidents of, early child marriage and child labor (d) Provide economic alternatives for every day survival