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Vatsalya dedicates itself to empower the vulnerable children to become responsible citizens in the mainstream, Shukti Sarma describes
The genesis of The Vatsalya Foundation lay in a field project of students from Nirmala Niketan. They started working with the children living on the streets in the Marine Lines area (Mumbai) in 1982. “At first, they would look at us with suspicion. But when they saw that we meant no harm, the kids warmed up to us. We ate together. We went rag-picking together. And we taught them how to save from their daily earnings. By 1994, we decided to form an organisation which would take up the cause of these children seriously. Thus, Vatsalya was born,” recalls Swathi Mukherjee, executive director and trustee of Vatsalya Foundation.
Vatsalya, she claims, is the pioneer in its field. It works with children between six and 18 years of age. It started as an outreach project; the volunteers and founder-members established a rapport with the children and then involved them in several group activities. Today, Vatsalya has numerous community and learning centres (some separately for girls) along the western suburbs of Mumbai. They also have a centre in Asangaon (Maharashtra) for tribal children which is solely managed by the local tribals. Apart from children’s shelters, Vatsalya also has group homes where young adults board.
Outreach is still a very important part of the Foundation. But there are many children at Vatsalya’s centres who come via reference also. Requests come from families whose wards have come to Mumbai to earn a living and have now become pavement-dwellers. Many of their former residents, who have stayed at their community homes, or have been part of their programmes, also refer children to Vatsalya’s shelters.
Viewing itself as a networking centre, where children are given non-formal education and engaged in group activities at the shelters, Vatsalya arranges for their admission in government schools and colleges. It also arranges for their vocational training in streams like gardening, catering, computer and BPO training and beautician courses. “When there are so many institutions in Mumbai which have the facilities for training people, why do we add to the number? Instead, through our network, we help these kids take advantage of the existing facilities,”
Ms Mukherjee says. Vatsalya collaborates with other NGOs who deal with issues like de-addiction, rehabilitation and child labour management, and also help runaways get back to their families.
Many children taken in by Vatsalya have now become volunteers for the organisation. They not only help in handling administrative jobs, but also teach the children. Sanjiv, who came to Vatsalya 12 years ago, is originally from a slum in Vadala (central Mumbai). He will turn 18 next month; he teaches maths at the centre. He is about to start his graduation in commerce. “I also do some data-entry tasks and other jobs. I have an interest in banking and insurance,” he says. He knows what it is like adjusting to living in a centre after living on the streets; and can handle his students well. “It is not that we don’t have fun. But I know when to act tough too,” he laughs.
There are others, who have now established themselves. “One of our former inmates now runs a cargo centre and has set up an NGO to help children going through the same hassles that he endured,” Ms Mukherjee says. Apart from their former members and staff, there are many students who work with Vatsalya as part of their projects.
Ms Mukherjee doesn’t see the hardships as ‘problems’; they are challenges which have to be overcome. “We do not think that there is much awareness about the issue; most people view it as charity which we do not believe in. It is about empowering children and helping them become self-sufficient,” she says.
One can contribute by being a part of Vatsalya’s awareness drive, or by becoming a volunteer. All donations are exempt under Section 80(G) of Income Tax Act.
The Vatsalya Foundation
King George V Memorial,
Dr E Moses Road
Mahalaxmi (W), Mumbai-400011
Tel: 022 24962115/24912352
Email: the[email protected]
The Nifty may see a sideways movement between 5,290 and 5,425
Global events and dismal domestic factory output numbers for December 2011 weighed on the market this week. The international scene was dominated by the impasse in Greece over the agreement with its creditors. Even though the beleaguered nation managed to clinch a deal on reforms and austerity measures, policymakers are concerned about Greece keeping its commitments. However, despite pressures, the market managed to close with a gain of 1%, making it the sixth positive weekly close.
The market closed higher on positive global cues on Monday. However, on Tuesday the market fell on concerns that Greece may be unable to avoid the default as it struggled to reach terms on a new bailout package. The market managed to register gains on Wednesday on hopes that Greece would find a way to end its debt problems. The benchmarks extended their gains on Thursday even as Greece failed to sew a deal to avoid a debt default. Dismal IIP data for December and a weak performance of the global markets saw the market closing lower on Friday.
The Sensex added 144 points to close the week at 17,749 and the Nifty ended 56 points up at 5,382. We may now see the Nifty moving sideways between 5,290 and 5,425.
The BSE Realty index and the BSE Consumer Durables index both closed 6% higher, while the BSE Healthcare index ended 1% lower.
Jindal Steel & Power (up 9%), Bajaj Auto (up 8%), TCS, Wipro and Sterlite Industries (up 5% each) were the top Sensex gainers whereas Bharti Airtel (down 10%), Hindustan Unilever, Mahindra & Mahindra, Sun Pharmaceuticals (down 3% each) and BHEL (down 1%) settled as top losers in the week.
The Nifty toppers were Jindal Steel & Power (up 9%), Cairn India, SAIL, Bajaj Auto (up 8% each) and ACC (up 6%). The main decliners were Bharti Airtel (down 10%), HUL, IDFC, Dr Reddy’s Laboratories and M&M (down 3% each).
Industrial production grew just 1.8% in December 2011 compared to 8.1% in the corresponding period last year, due to contraction in mining and capital goods sectors and a lower manufacturing sector growth. The decline in IIP numbers will make a good case for further rate cuts by the RBI, experts opine.
India’s exports growth rate recorded a marginal increase of in January with the overseas shipments expanding by 10.1% year-on-year to $25.4 billion despite weak demand in the western markets. Imports grew at a faster rate of 20.3% to $40.1 billion, leaving a trade deficit of $14.7 billion, commerce secretary Rahul Khullar said on Thursday.
According to Mr Khullar, the problems in the US and Europe are clearly weighing down on the country’s exports. From a peak of 82% in July 2011, export growth has slipped to 44.25% in August 2011, 36.36% in September 2011 and 10.8% in October last year.
On the international front, after many days of flip-flops, Greek leaders Thursday said they had reached a deal on economic reforms and austerity measures needed to secure a second bailout, however, Eurozone finance ministers demanded more measures and a parliamentary nod before providing the aid.
In the US, the country’s trade deficit widened more-than-expected to $48.8 billion in December, rising to the highest level since July 2008. Meanwhile, weekly jobless claims dropped by 15,000 to 358,000, the second-lowest level in nearly four years, according to a government report Thursday.