Child labour is rampant in certain areas of India. A door-to-door survey conducted by the Bal Suraksha Abhiyan (BSA) Trust in the town of Kalimpong and neighbouring villages identified 261 child labourers who were employed in hotels, garages, teashops, bakeries and households. The children were usually trafficked from neighbouring districts and states like Jalpaiguri, Assam, Bihar and other border areas by agents and sold to the employers. Several intermediaries were usually involved in this process of human trafficking. Forced to work for long hours for paltry sums, these children were denied the right to education, development, play and recreation and suffered various forms of abuse.
The Bal Suraksha Abhiyan (BSA) Trust, run by the Sisters of St Joseph’s of Cluny, is a not-for-profit that works to end child labour. Their mission is to promote children’s rights and a dignified life for children for their holistic growth and development. It aims to rehabilitate children by providing main stream education, counselling, health and hygiene and a child friendly environment.
One of their projects, the BSA Child Labour Rehabilitaion Centre, is supported by the Glenn Family Foundation. This centre was built in 2009 in the hill areas of Kalimpong and is a spacious building equipped with facilities for children rescued from child labour. The Foundation sponsors these 130 children for their lodging, food and pocket money, and provides a new school uniform and other clothing two times a year. The BSA Trust provides them with education and rehabilitation. Children stay at this centre until age 18 and thereafter the Foundation supports their stay in a private hostel or private home.
Sir Owen G Glenn Learning Centres:
The Glenn Family Foundation, in partnership with the Sister’s of St. Joseph’s of Cluny, created three education centres in Kalimpong, India – in the villages of Chibbo, Bong and Pudung.
Youth attend these centres after school. These centres better helping youth who are struggling in school with extra tuition so that they do not drop out and resort to child labour. The centres also assists those who have left education to access open schools, colleges and vocational training to further their development. The centres also facilitate visits from government schemes and health services and runs awareness workshops on topics such as healthy sanitation practices and child trafficking.