A big thank you to everyone for your support of this project over the last few months.
In our last report, we reported on the reopening of the Bridge School in mid-March and the return of the children after a gap of about one year. However, due to the re-emergence of the covid-19 pandemic, a lockdown was imposed in the project area in the state of Telangana, and the Bridge School was sadly closed again in May.
Although the lockdown was lifted in Telangana in late June, there is still no prospect of the school reopening. Especially in rural areas, including the project villages, access to online education is limited, so children have to continue studying at home under tough conditions.
Supporting children's learning and preventing child labour
The covid-19 pandemic has led to a loss of educational opportunities for children and reduced income and unemployment for their parents.
In the project, our experienced local NGO partner, SPEED, distributes educational materials to the children as emergency assistance, continues to make rounds of the project area, and conducts home visits in collaboration with the local community, mainly to the families of children attending the bridge school. We continue to assess each child's situation and provide support for their learning to ensure that the children do not return to child labour during the school closure. The children have been repeatedly practising and reading the materials provided to them, and when the SPEED staff visit their homes, children willingly tell them about the stories they are reading and which books they like.
Efforts not to return to child labour
When the Bridge School reopened in March, it was a great pleasure and achievement to see 75 children back in school. They themselves were eagerly awaiting their return! We also have seen a positive change in the children's lives during regular home visits – children have not returned to child labour during the school closure! At every home visit by SPEED staff, children tell them how they spend every day or that they have engaged in home learning. This is one of the most obvious progress of the project.
Ongoing work to protect children
Please let me share a story to show how your support contributes to children and their families' needs in one of our project villages.
In a family of four children, both parents had been infected with the covid-19. When SPEED staff visited the family for the regular assessment, it found out that the family was in great need as the parents were day labourers. The children felt extremely lonely and anxious and needed support.
So we supported the children to access the regional public health service and take a PCR test at the hospital. After they were confirmed negative, we helped to isolate the children from their parents at their home properly. At the same time, we provided food supplies to the family to not have to worry about their daily food needs. The continued regular visits by SPEED staff and the provision of food helped stabilise the children's emotional well-being and their parents' recovery. Now, the parents are fully recovered, and the whole family is living together.
What would have happened to this family if local staff did not conduct the visit?
This event reaffirmed for us that it is crucial and meaningful to continue patrolling the village and visiting families to check on the villagers' current situation and communicate with them, as well as to continue to provide mental support to the children, even under such difficult circumstances.
On the one hand, this support provides educational opportunities for the children. It helps to cope with the loss of income and unemployment of their parents. Still, on the other hand, it goes without saying that there is a need for further support and sustained efforts to prevent children who have been out of school for more than a year from going back to engaging in child labour.
Together with SPEED, we will continue long-term, effective and sustainable approaches to supporting both children and their parents in this difficult situation. Thank you again for your support.