December 2004




December  2004 


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CRYing Out Loud For Child Rights

Kids in CRY care…continuing a crusade

Child Relief and You (CRY) continues its twenty-five year old crusade for Child Rights. It has managed to make a difference in the lives of more than a million destitute kids – but a lot more remains to be done

Almost one third of India’s population does not have a say in determining its Government. Promises made to them at the time of Independence remain unfulfilled. Their basic rights are violated every day. These people live in every state, practice every religion and belong to all castes but have no one to represent them. They are the children of India, the torchbearers of the future.

Even after fifty-seven years of Independence children continue to be the most neglected segment in India. It is amid this environment of little or no education, malnourishment and child labour that a beacon of hope has emerged. Child Relief and You (CRY) has been working tirelessly over the past 25 years to restore basic rights to underprivileged children.  

A Dream Come True

CRY was founded in 1979 when social activist Rippan Kapur set out to improve the condition of India's deprived children. Kapur along with six like-minded people worked resolutely to establish CRY as a link between the millions of Indians who could provide resources and those who needed them.

Twenty five years after its beginnings, CRY has managed to make a profound difference in the lives of more than a million destitute children.

Interestingly that’s not all it has done in the last quarter of a century. When the money began to flow in, CRY extended its role as a mediator between the needy and the donors and began to support local NGO’s by providing them with funds and advice on capacity building to increase the scale and impact of their work. As Bondana Dutta (Regional Director, North & East) puts it, "CRY believes that child rights do not exist in isolation of communities in which children live. It is only by working in tandem with these communities that we can help restore these children’s basic rights."

Freedom Movement For Kids

The success story of CRY goes further than that. Being aware that kids have been continually denied rights guaranteed to them by the Constitution and by the United Nations Charter (to which India is a signatory), CRY decided to draft a manifesto proposing to increase government spending on child education and health facilities.

The proposal that advocates education, health facilities and right to survival for children, was incorporated in the pre-election manifestos of Congress (I) and the Left Parties. Alongside, CRY has also begun the "Pinwheel Campaign"--a mass awareness drive on child rights in India. The intention is to create a ‘freedom movement for India’s children’ making people aware of their responsibility of bringing about positive changes to the lives of under-privileged Indian children. CRY´s symbol of the movement is the chakri (pinwheel), similar to the spinning wheel that Mahatma Gandhi gave as a symbol for the India´s Freedom Movement.

Says Ms. Dutta, "The chakri epitomizes childhood and stands for energy and movement - the more the energy, the faster it moves. Through this symbolism we hope that the people of the country will understand that the larger the number of people supporting the 'freedom movement for India’s children’, the greater its momentum will be. The objective is to make the symbol represent the movement for child rights." 

CRY is approaching not just its partner NGOs, donors and volunteers but also everyday citizens through an intensive mass media programme that would urge people to read the Pinwheel Charter and buy a "Free a Child" chakri, sign it and return to CRY. The volunteer in turn would receive a badge with the message ‘I stand for child rights’.

Social activist Nafisa Ali supporting the CRY cause

And it’s not just the adults. CRY has even reached school children who are helping by making these chakris in their schools and sending them to CRY in an effort to ensure that the deprived half receive their due.

In addition to these attempts at ensuring child rights, CRY organized a three-city carnival on November 13th and14th  in Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore to celebrate childhood. The ‘Free a Child Chakris’ was the main emphasis of all these carnivals and the fair itself was a platform to disseminate information on child rights.

For children there was entertainment in the form of games, workshops, contests and performances. It was essentially a way to sensitize kids and their families on their role in ensuring child rights in India.

With this ambitious "freedom movement" CRY hopes to give a new impetus to the tired cliché that "children are our nation’s assets".  The organization hopes to acknowledge children as a distinct group of individuals and address their concerns separately under law.





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