Thursday, November 20, 2008

Child protection and child welfare

19th November is World Child Protection day. This year SOLAS 2008 was organized by Hope Foundation Kolkata on this day to invite the children and the adults to join hands together to combat child abuse. Hope Foundation started its journey in Kolkata on 7th February 1999 with the vision of improving the quality of life of the underprivileged vulnerable population and works for sustainable development in health and education for children, adolescents and women in urban impoverished areas. Two days long awareness and advocacy campaign has been organized this year by Hope Foundation on 18th and 19th November to draw attention to the plight of women and children in India in recent times.

At the begining of the event, speeches from the Director, Overseas Director and the chief guest voiced critical concerns about the plight of women and children in India with hard statistics thus making the relevance of these initiatives very clear to the audience. A panel discussion was also arranged where distinguished personalities associated with child welfare, justice and law enforcement, media and literature took part voluntarily; the names in the panel were:
1. Suman Bala Sahoo, IG, Administration
2. Anchita Ghatak, Social Entrepreneur
3. Debashish Banerjee, Advocate HRLN
4. Amita Sen, Chairperson Child Welfare Committee
5. Sandip Mitra, Childline India Foundation
6. B. K Dutta, Former District Judge
7. Sarfraz Ahmed Khan, Advocate
8. Sonali Chatterjee, Psychologist
9. Mallika Banerjee, Psychologist
10. Sunetra Ghatak, Writer
11. Anindya Chatterjee, Journalist / Singer
12. Sudipta Chakraborty, Actress
13. Prabir Basu, CACL.
It was a very educative session where speakers shared their experiences and concerns, and made us aware of the legal and social scenarios in the area of child welfare. But it also made apparent that the issue has been long neglected and only recently gaining any noticeable momentum.

However the most inspiring part of the event was the performances by the children themselves. Through short dramas, dance performances, songs and recitations they painted before the audience the grim situations they have to face in their everyday lives. A wide range of issues related to child welfare were touched upon: abuse at home or school, education, child labour, street children, children forced to begging, etc. It was a long programme with lots of enthusiastic participation that ended in a dance performance with the music "Aashayein". All the children present there spontaneously started dancing along with their friends on-stage, the spirit of the song suddenly started spilling out of the stage infiltrating into the mind of everyone present on the spot. It was with the hope to reach the sky someday, to make happen what seems impossible today that the programme came to an end.

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