I had the chance to arrive in Panipat to work for one month in a project of Humana People to People India, called Action against Child Labour. Child Labour represents one of the biggest challenges in India, where is the highest number of children “economically active” in the world, more than 31 million (2017). Panipat is a centre of the textile industry in India and Humana People to People India (HPPI), since 2015, has worked to get children out of the factories and enrolled back into schools.
This initiative is involving all the community from Panipat because on one hand, they have mobilizers that are trying to engage the factories owners in refusing to hire children and in becoming partners in this action. The project is focusing also on the power of women groups in each district that are identifying kids working in these factories. On the other hand, this project is proposing alternative ways of education for the children that were involved in child labour in order to be enrolled in governmental schools. The children that worked in factories are firstly trained in HPPI’s Kadam Centres (6 to 11 years old) or in the newly established Bridges Schools, designed to accommodate adolescents between 11 to 18 years old. In this way, the network of this project is gathering together the entrepreneurs from the region, the groups of women, the teachers and the public institutions.
One important aspect of this initiative is tracking the children’s progress during the alternatives schools and when they reach the level of education according to their age, monitoring their evolution in governmental schools. This is a strong team working between the teachers from Humana’s educational programmes and the public schools. I was totally impressed by the power of community and the openness of people working together. This is a huge step forward but the challenges are still here, the poverty and the lack of education are the principal causes of child labour and they are hard to overcome.
What are we supposed to do in this programme? Firstly, we visited the community and tried to understand how the project is working, that’s why we saw some factories that became partners in this action and we assisted at some group women’s meetings and visited the Khadan centres, Bridges Schools and Public Schools from the community. The main part of our contribution will consist of working with the Bridges School by implementing STEM projects for the students there. This interactive way of teaching has the goal of raising the student’s curiosity and autonomy in learning.
After visiting the community, I felt a small piece in a chain of connections between people. India has its unique way of making you feel welcomed and part of the community. But from all the experiences I was impressed the most by the joy of women group inviting us to assist at their meeting. All I could have felt was the power of people together facing the same challenges and I hope I can be part of their togetherness.