The street and working children project was initiated in 1990. Funded by the Ministry of Social Empowerment, Govt. of India. The basic aim of the project is to provide shelter for the needy street children identified through the seven contact points in southern parts of Chennai. The contact points are the potential places where the rag pickers used to deposit their rags for money and those centres are designated contact points. The social workers and counsellors of the project visit these points to motivate the children to visit the shelter home. At the shelter home the children were given free shelter and food. The counsellor will have informal interaction with the children to know his /her interest in education or vocational training. If the child wishes to go back home, steps will be taken to arrange for their return home through volunteer escorts.
The children who are in the shelter homes are trained to plan a work schedule for the week by themselves. This would include morning exercises, meditation, reading news and analysis, games and other activities to keep them engaged and create an impact on their life style.
The children are also trained in street theatre to bring out their talents and also to create awareness on the various environmental and other issues among the communities that they live.
AYC operates four non-formal education centres (NFE) in Kakkanji Nagar, Amma Nagar Otteri and Perambur.
In all these four NFE centres, twenty to thirty five children attend evening classes from 4.p till about 6. 00 pm. The trained Street Educators facilitate these classes and enable the children to understand the concepts of learning and help them to build up their lives.
As of 2017 over 250 children had been restored to their parents and were motivated to continue their studies in the schools located near their areas.
Six medical camps were organized for the children of the Shelter Home with the help of volunteer medical professionals and doctors. Sex education and awareness on HIV / AIDS were also conducted to the children at the various contact points.
Awareness on child rights is integral part for the development of children who were forced to live under abusive and exploitative conditions AYC organized regular awareness camps and training on Child rights, Health and Personal Hygiene and Leadership and capacity building of youth. Over 60 children from the various contact points participated and benefitted.
Three awareness programmes on alcohol addiction and substance abuse was conducted to the street children especially the rag-picker children who are prone to various forms of substance abuse and addictions.
Through child participatory methods and peer counselling, the talents and skills of the children were identified and they were motivated to nurture these talents.
AYC volunteers rescued four children who were working in hazardous conditions. The owners of these establishments were contacted and they were given awareness on the rights of children and they were persuaded not to employ children any longer. The children were also given counselling and motivated to attend NFE centres and enrolled in schools.
During Independence day on August 15th and other such National Holidays AYC regularly conducts Sports events for the street children. About 100 children participated and excelled in various sports. They were felicitated and awarded by prominent citizens and officials from the Government and Voluntary Sector.
About 25 children were taken on a recreational tour to a beach resort /park on the east coast of Chennai. The children thoroughly enjoyed the outing and had loads of fun. They were provided with lunch and nutritional snacks during this picnic.
ChildLine 1098 is a National 24 by 7 toll free emergency telephone number for children who need emergency care and protection. AYC as the Support Agency undertakes support and counselling services to the emergencies referred through this number.
Recently, AYC rescued Thanga Mari – 12 years old from a bicycle repair shop where he was forced to work long hours without any proper conditions. The team went to the shop and with the help of the local police rescued the boy. On enquiry it was found that the boy’s mother had committed suicide and the father had abandoned Thanga Mari and his 6 year old younger sister Selvi. The siblings were under the care of the grandmother. Because of the family issues, Thangamari had to drop out of school and find some odd jobs and ended up in the bicycle shop. The AYC team and volunteers counselled the grandmother and the boy to continue schooling. With the support of the school Headmistress, the boy was enrolled into school and is presently continuing his studies.
AYC continued its campaign and awareness on ChildLine Help Line. About 175 Auto drivers in various transit hubs at Koyambedu, Vadapalani, Virugambakkam and Porur were targeted and given pamphlets on ChildLine. The auto drivers also clarified their doubts and also agreed to carry the ChildLine stickers on their vehicles.
AYC also targeted Public Call Offices in and around the areas were children enter the city and explained to them about ChildLine. The volunteers distributed pamphlets and stickers to create awareness about the toll free number 1098. More than 250 such call offices were covered during this campaign.
Asian Youth Centre had organized about eight self-help groups (SHGs) for the women living in the slums. They were organized and trained to mobilize savings. Presently had started lending money from their savings. AYC staff and animators conduct regular visits and guide them to conduct meetings. The groups have planned to start self-employment ventures so that they can take control of their own economic development
AYC believes that globally policies do affect people in the street like farmers affected by global climate change. Therefore as part of WFM, AYC influences arms control and climate change. AYC played active role in the SASA-Net (South Asia Small Arms Network) and the Arms Trade Treaty. AYC leaders participated in the UN conference on small arms in New York in 2001 and AYC chair spoke at the UN General Assembly Hall number : 4 to delegates of the member states. AYC is a member of control arms.
AYC promoted South Asian Federalists, a forum of intellectuals in South Asia which provides advocacy during SAARC events. Currently SAF is coordinating UN Parliamentary Assembly(UNPA) in India.
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