Child Rights through Participation

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Children at Navratri Celebrations

Shaishav is one of 2Way Development’s oldest partners and our South Asian hub. Operating in Bhavnagar, Gujarat, Shaishav works to improve the rights of children, particularly surrounding the issues of education and child labour. One of the core methods in Shaishav’s work is the focus on child participation; children are encouraged to involve themselves in all decisions made by Shaishav. Shaishav’s most important programme is Balsena, a children’s collective of almost 3,000 members. All decisions for Balsena are made by children with only facilitative support from Shaishav. Through a wide variety of different events and activities, children learn to recognise their rights and campaign for them. Balsena members are involved in a wide variety of different programmes, including:

  • Balsena Points – 63 community and school-based teams where children can get together and participate in activities under the theme ‘play together, stay together’.
  • Savings Bank – a savings programme that provides children with skills in financial responsibility and decision-making.
  • Kishori Mandal – providing adolescent girls with information, support and advice on issues that they face during puberty.
  • Book Banks – providing members with access to educational textbooks and other learning materials.
  • Balsena also includes programmes and events such as Leadership Camps, Vacation Camp and children’s fairs throughout the year.
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Candidates at the Balsena Presidential Election

Many children move on to Tarunsena, Shaishav’s youth collective, after graduating from Balsena at the age of 18. Shaishav also runs two Area Resource Centres for children, based in the middle of slum communities. These provide basic computer training in Microsoft Office and Gujarati typing, computer-based education courses, various vocational skills training courses and libraries. They also provide information for adults on a large number of government schemes and benefits that local people can utilise.

Through Shaishav’s Child Rights Training and Resource Centre (CRTRC), the organisation’s work is supported and strengthened. The CRTRC provides training and support to staff from both Shaishav and external organisations, documents Shaishav’s work and produces a wide variety of resource materials to assist in accumulating experience and help other organisations replicate Shaishav’s work.

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Performance during Shaishav’s annual Vacation Camp

Finally, Shaishav has implemented a variety of different community-based initiatives. Lok Samarthan Manch is a forum made up of adults from the same underprivileged communities. This forum provides a voice for local people, assists them in benefiting from government schemes, and gives them training and exposure to a variety of different topics. Area Committees are made up of Balsena, Tarunsena and Lok Samarthan Manch members and give them a voice on local issues through collective strength.

Thanks to Shaishav’s work, 10,000 children have been admitted to mainstream schooling, successful campaigning has led to the first high school being built in Bhavnagar’s largest slum and children are leading child rights initiatives in their communities. Thousands of children have been empowered by Shaishav’s teaching and many have participated in state, national and international events, demonstrating their leadership to other children. 2Way Development has now placed 5 volunteers with Shaishav for periods ranging between 3 and 18 months. Shaishav is a fantastic organisation and we hope to continue working with them for many years to come.

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