INDIA: Donor funding from Salesian Missions supports Ekalavya Children’s Home
Children’s home supports school dropouts, rescues child laborers and provides basic needs for at-risk children.
NEW ROCHELLE, NY (July 18, 2022) Children living at the Ekalavya Children’s Home were supported by donor funding from Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. The home was created by the Salesian-run People’s Action for Rural Awakening for disadvantaged children in Konaseema, located in the East Godavari District of Andhra Pradesh, India.
The home, which can accommodate up to 50 children, was started to support school dropouts, rescue child laborers, and provide a home for at-risk children, those living on the street, or those who have run away from dysfunctional families. Ekalavya Children’s Home is a child care institution licensed under the Juvenile Justice Act. Every home for children at risk needs to be licensed by the Women Development and Child Welfare Department of the state government.
Ekalavya Children’s Home is located behind a railway station in Rajahmundry. Children who have run away use the railway station for travel and to beg for money to survive. Salesian staff members have good relationships with the railway police department to rescue children from the station and bring them to the courts and then onto the Ekalavya Children’s Home.
The home also works in collaboration with Child Line 1098 and is available to children in need day and night. Some children live in the home, are provided skill development programs and are sent to a nearby school for regular education. Other children are part of the shelter program. They stay at the home until they are able to go back to their family homes or receive rehabilitation services at another place.
While providing for basic needs and connecting children into educational programs, Ekalavya Children’s Home also helps children understand their emotions and connect better with their peers and adults. The home provides a weekly meeting where children can talk about issues that are bothering them, whether it’s with other children, school or adults. This helps children work through interpersonal issues and helps them resolve conflict in a productive way.
In addition to this support, a care mother is available for children at all times. Children have regular night prayer and time to share the events of the day. The children’s meeting with the care mother also provides an opportunity for children to express their views and ideas for the better functioning of the home.
“We are grateful for the donor support for Ekalavya Children’s Home,” said Father Gus Baek, director of Salesian Missions. “These children come from disadvantaged backgrounds and need the support of caring adults to ensure they are cared for and receive an education. This home environment provides children a safe environment and a chance at a brighter future.”
Ekalavya Children’s Home also offers facilities for hosting small functions including retreats and workshops. There is a semi-open-air auditorium for seating 150 and a training hall for 100. There are also four bedrooms available for anyone who needs to stay at the home while using the facilities. These spaces are often rented out to provide income to help sustain the home.
India has the world’s fourth largest economy but more than 22 percent of the country lives in poverty. About 31 percent of the world’s multidimensionally poor children live in India, according to a report by the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative. A multidimensionally poor child is one who lacks at least one-third of 10 indicators, grouped into three dimensions of poverty: health, education and standard of living.
India’s youth also face a lack of educational opportunities due to issues of caste, class and gender. Almost 44 percent of the workforce is illiterate and less than 10 percent of the working-age population has completed secondary education. In addition, many secondary school graduates do not have the knowledge and skills to compete in today’s changing job market.
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