Sussane, the team member of Don Bosco Mondo, paid a visit to the panchayat office of Venkatapuram village and interacted with the members of Village Child Rights’ Committee (VCPC) on 28.11.2018. All the members of the committee, except for members of Human Rights’ Clubs, were present on the day. The students, HRC members, could not make it to the meeting as they had an examination.
The session started with Fr. Ignatius addressing the meeting and briefing about PARA and its projects and the purpose of visiting the village. He also introduced Susanne to the gathering.
On coming to know about the problems in the village, Susanne asked if they were facing any challenges working with the people. The members of the VCPC said that since they were familiar in the village, people generally listen to them. With regard to VCPC, Susanne asked if any exchanges between the members of VCPCs of Venkatapuram and VCPCs of other villages have taken place so far. To this, VCPC members said that nothing as such had happened as the committee was just three weeks old.
The team member of Don Bosco Mondo asked the VCPC what were child-related issues in the village. Answering the question, the members of the committee said that they were spreading awareness in the village about trafficking of children on the pretext of job. To this measure, we are seeing that no girl goes out of the village for job with an unknown person, they added.
Talking about her 2-year-old child, who is in Germany, Susanne asked how children are being treated. The VCPC members said there was a bad influence of television on parents and added that these days parents, instead of giving time to children, were stuck to watching TV serials. A member of the committee said that parents were just cooking food for children and leaving them on their own. There was no exchange between parents and children.
They said they were ensuring that there were no cases of child marriages in the village. They also added that they were sensitising the parents about the complications related to early marriages, early pregnancy, challenges in raising children, and so on.
Susanne asked the committee members if they needed more training programmes on Human Rights. Nodding their heads, they said it this would help them get more familiarise with child rights. And when the session was open for ‘question and answer’, they asked Susanne what made her travel such a long way, leaving the 2-year-old at home. The team member of DBM said that though her job was to sit at her desk and report to BMZ, she wanted to know the conditions of children of other countries apart from her own.
Sharing her personal life, she said that she was a student scout and was passionate about helping others. This made me work with the needy. She added that her husband was into business.
Later, she visited the nearby Anganwadi centre which was about 200 meters away from the panchayat office. She enquired about the nutrition and medication given to pregnant women and children. She also she spent some time with kids who were of her child’s age.
From there, the district coordinator of Krishna, T Madhusudan Rao, led the visiting team to another panchayat office in Pedhaprolu village where the VCPC meetings generally take place. Even here both the parties, visiting team and VCPC members, introduced themselves to each other and Fr Ignatius walked them through the works of PARA and explained the agenda of the visit.
The guide teacher asked Susanne and Fr Ignatius why they were sensitising people on Human Rights. Fr Ignatius and Susanne said it was important to make the children aware of their rights like participation, protection, education, and survival of that children have a better future.
Talking about Human Rights, the members of VCPC asked for printed materials like fliers, books, hoardings, etc, on the rights to reach more and more people in the village. They added that there was no point in conducting or discussing about human rights within the four walls if they don’t reach the masses.
When asked if there were any problems in the village, the village secretaryaffirmed that there were no problems as the district collector was closely following up. He said that for this reason there were no NGOs in the area.
Susanne asked the meeting if there were any child marriage cases in the village. For which, all said no. However, as the discussion went on, they said there might be few child marriages carried out outside the village which were not coming to their notice. However, they said that parents were taking the children to faraway places like temples to conduct the child marriages.
The VCPC members added that they stopped two child marriages in the village that they came across and counselled the parents about the problems related to early marriages. They also sensitised them on rights. One of the VCPC members said that might the reason why parents were taking children to remote areas to conduct child marriages.
Discussing about the health of pregnant women and children, the gathering said the village had established a nutri-garden, where all the required fruits and vegetable were grown. To a question on how their children were treated, they said now-a-days children were not listening to parents. They were either busy with their mobiles when at home or go out with friends and return only late in the night.
To this, Fr Ignatius said that the current generation was fast and “quick learners”. He added that parents should give them time and listen to their ideas and opinions instead of downplaying their views. Otherwise, once they realise that you are not listening to them,they stop telling you anything to the parents or elders, even if anything major incident takes place. He ended the session by asking them to have quality time with children and make them aware of their rights.