CHILD FRIENDLY VILLAGE

Bal Mitra Gram (BMG) or ‘child friendly village’ is a micro model of a macro vision to make a child friendly world, where every child is free from exploitation, receives education, recreation and health facilities, their voices are heard and participation is ensured in an environment of friendliness, rights and dignity in the community. Intense consciousness raising efforts to challenge and change age-old mindsets based on many social, cultural and gender biases, sensitising and involving all stakeholders are among some of the key elements in creating a BMG.

Bal Mitra Gram or child friendly village is a novel concept that adopted by BBA in 2001 to make villages and wards in India child labour free where every school-going child will be in schools. This is conformity with the broad objective of BBA (SACCS), which stands for total elimination of child labour and ensuring education to all children.
 
This is done successfully through involving the local community and participation of children themselves by forming bal panchayat which will serve as an effective tool to influence the decision making process and ensures the participation of children at the micro level. BMG has been triumphant in making sure that the issue of gender inequality is addresses on through this process 2/3 of the children of the child labour and In the process of formation of BAL panchayat primacy is given to girls in the election process of child leaders. Children’s parliament addresses the issues related to Quality of education and loopholes of education system and by highlighting these pitfalls; BMG has been blooming in a number of villages to improve the quality of education. This is only process it has been able to knock the sleeping conscience of the Government through constantly taking up the issue related to the development of the children at the village level.
 
Why BMG?
 
The majority of children deprived of their childhood, opportunities and future, live in different villages. Most of them are engaged in economic activities and denied schooling. Their emancipation is today's biggest challenge. The solution lies in changing the mindset, behavior and priorities of the village community.
 
Bachpan Bachao Andolan (South Asian Coalition on Child Servitude) in India is working towards creating a child friendly society where the first and foremost step is child friendly village, BAL MITRA GRAM.
 
The BBA (SACCS) has been engaged in wiping out the blot of child servitude for more than two decades. Our efforts have led to the release of more than 60,000 children from the shackles of servitude.
 
The uniqueness of the Bal Mitra Gram (BMG) initiative lies in active participation of the village children in creating a legitimate democratic space for themselves in panchayats, communities, schools and families. Secondly solving the deep rooted problem of child labour and creating a demand and value for good education as a village pride, igniting the mass consciousness and using the people's potential, power and local resources is another significant element for success and sustainability. BMG is the true translation of child rights at the grassroots level.
 
Objectives of BMG
  • Identification and Withdrawal of child laborers from the villages
  • Mainstreaming of all children in Schools
All children are enrolled in schools and ensures that each and every child in the Village goes to school regularly, so that the overall emphasis on quality of Education.
  • Adult Village Panchayat recognizes and incorporates the voices of children Formation of Bal Panchayat (Children’s Parliament)
To enhance the component of democratic participation at the micro level it is envisaged that BAL Panchayats (children’s parliament) would be formed where in issues related to children, their development and welfare would be taken up in a fully democratic manner. This will entail understanding children centric by children themselves. Through this process promote the girls participation in the decision making process and to build up sensitivity towards the commencement of gender equality. It will be a prelude to the stage where the children will make their voices heard in the adult‘s village panchayat.
  • Socio- Economic development of marganilised section of the village.
Through institutional building, Self help groups, networking with the government and non-government departments and income generation activities helps to achieve the social and economic development of the underprivileged section of the society.
 
Strategies of BMG
 
Empowerment of Marginalised Community
 
Sensitisation of Community included parents/ employers/ school authorities/ district administration through different methodologies like rallies, demonstrations and awareness campaigns. 
Sensitize the groups members about problem of child labour and significance of children's education 
Group meetings with the elder, youth and women, children groups
 
Empowerment of Children
 
Child Participation – Withdrawal of children from work and Sensitize the village panchayat and employers and pressure building from parents 
Mainstreaming into schools, Formation of BAL Panchayat to encourage child participation.
 
Social and Economic Development of the Community
 
Institutional building through formation of ward and village networking committee at village and district level, youth groups, self-help groups. 
Economic empowerment of the marginalised community through formation of self help group and provide vocational training and capacity building of the youth and unemployed section of the community. 
Information Situational analysis and identification of causal factors behind their marginalised status and disseminate information on government schemes / policies and implementing authorities. 
Organize free health camps in the community bring awareness on environment and organise Sanitation and hygiene drive through community participation.
 
Strengthen the local Self-governance of the village
 
Sensitisation of Elected Representatives – facilitating collaborative approach between Bal Panchayat and other village community groups to resolve village development issues 
Sensitize the panchayat about seriousness and sensitivity of the child labour issue. The committee members regularly meet village panchayat to resolve the constraints in official procedure. Cooperation with Elected Bal panchayat members and Village panchayat.