“Janvikas Society” is a non-profit organization run by the Society of the Divine Word (SVD) Central Indian Province. Janvikas pays special attention to the welfare of the unorganized laborers, waste picking women and street children, unemployed youth and migrant workers in the city of Indore. We motivate them to strive for self-reliance, integral and sustainable development. We collaborate with everyone making effort to create an environment of justice, peace and integrity of creation. Janvikas has chosen to support the cause of the weaker sections in society like the street children, working children, the rag picking women and the unemployed youth.
Indore is the biggest Industrial town and commercial capital of the whole of central India and it is situated in the western part of the State of Madhya Pradesh. Over 600 Slums of Indore city are inhabited by the poor landless and homeless people with hardly any means of economic survival. The mismatch between limited income and number of feeding mouths has forced these families to send their children to work and earn a livelihood. They are often forced never to attend school or drop out of schools at early stage.
Many of the children of the waste pickers go to work with the mothers from very young age. Some join the elementary school in the neighborhood but drop out for want of support to their parents. Others do not care about schooling but get absorbed into the wandering group of children in the slum, soon to become a nuisance to the family and the society. Gradually they get absorbed into the criminal gangs operating from the slums.
Janvikas runs a program called Bridge School for these slum children. Children attending this program receive special care, coaching and teaching. They are prepared to write and pass the Bridge School examination. This enable them to join the regular school and continue education with the children of their age group, who would otherwise never get a chance to study. In the past three years 350 children have benefitted from this program.
The main objectives of the program is to remove illiteracy from the slum communities. It opens opportunities for the working children’s education, educational support to children in the age group of 5- 14 through Bridge School and to provide support with Career Guidance to children from 14 – 18 years assisting them to choose a profession that would sustain them and their family.
Bridge School program is going on in 10 sites. Children between the age of 5-14 are enrolled. Each class has a minimum of 25 and a maximum of 35 students. An experienced teacher manages the class and a supervisor oversees the activities. Children are provided with textbooks, notebooks, pen, pencil, two sets of uniform, shoes, school bag, water bottle etc. Each Bridge School is equipped with materials for indoor and outdoor games and activities for children to relax and enjoy the leisure time.
Periodic workshops, street plays, rallies and regular meetings of local small business owners, scrap shopkeeper (recycling place) and parents are held to conscientise the need to educate children, because the small business owners are the employers of these young children. Cooperation from the local government leaders and municipal corporation and police authorities are constantly sought and received. There is constant contact with the parents and the elders/leaders of the slum community for the smooth management and progress of the program.
The program has been badly affected during this pandemic time. Most of the centers were closed during lock down period. The teachers constantly tried to be in touch with the children and their parents providing them online classes. Many of the children were given used smart phones, tablets and internet facilities. They also came together at the centers whenever it was possible following all the mandatory regulations. The situation is gradually improving after a severe second wave.
By Rev. Roy Thomas, SVD, Director, Janvikas, Indore.