CWC emanated from the trade union movement in which the founders (Nandana Reddy, Damodar Acharya) were leaders. It was established in the mid eighties in response to complaints from children that trade unions were neglecting them, while they make up a sizable part of the India working force.
It now works in five districts of Karnataka, i.e. Bellary, Uttar Kannada, Udupi and Devangere. The first rural programme is in Udupi (1989) where CWC has a large training centre 'Namma Bhoomi' (2 ha, 90 resident pupils).
Bangalore has the oldest and only urban programme. Thereafter CWC sought to go back to the areas of origin of the migrant workers in order to tackle the problems of migration at its roots, i.e. by empowering children in the villages and enabling their parents (mothers), both economically and politically. The latter is expressed in working with village Panchayats, but without taking any political stance.
At local level, CWC has the following programme components:
- vocational training for children/youngsters in various trades like garment making (cum beautician), weaving, carpentry, wood/stone working, construction works, electric works, and recently (at Kundabur) also photography and ICT;
- basic education of children with Montessori method (direct or through primary school teachers)
- Bhima Sangha, union of children, at various levels,
- Namma Sabha, association of young craftsmen
- Local development work with village Panchayats
- Self-Help Groups of marginalised women.
It has training centers in Kundapur and Sirsi. Planned is a centre in Hadagalle (plot obtained).
At national level, CWC works on research (together with children), communication (newsletter in billboard-form, training material), lobbying and advocacy for children's rights at state, national and international level. These activities are coordinated mainly from Bangalore.
The main donors of CWC are Save the Children Norway and FORUT. In addition are other international donors, the Indian Government, and individual contributors. Consultancy and training income provide almost half of its annual income too (in 2004 almost 40%). CWC is also taking initiatives and active in international networks for children and they have many international strudents.
Striking features of CWC are:
- acceptance of child labour as a reality, and therefore great attention to children at work; hence the provision of education, vocational training as well as acting for labour rights for children;
- recognition of children as members of the community and strengthening their voices and role in the local community: “empowering children and enabling adults”;
- promoting, creating and working actively for/with children's Panchayats;
- non-dogmatic and pragmatic;
- political (but not partywise), and seeking balances in party politics if needed
- practical orientation in their approaches: problem analysis, and then actions on the basis of needs of the children and women;
- no cash, grants are directly given to the people and the communities (only in cases of crisis and relief);
- working on training and development in close relationship with the local Panchayat members as elected representatives of the communities;
- awareness of 'small is beautiful', optimal use of local resources within the setting of increased globalisation and open markets;
The SHGs of women have a membership of 15 to 20 (maximum). They are formed around the theme of thrift and savings for self-help. The weekly deposit is generally Rs 10/-. The fund so created is used for small loans to the members, which can be for production or consumption (medical, education, housing) purposes.
Members are trained to maintain their accounts in a simple manual system. The members have savings passbooks.
The SHG have an elected president, treasurer and secretary, which functions rotate yearly.
SHG may seek loans from local banks and co-operative societies to supplement their credit funds, but CWC purposely does not provide loan funds. Field workers may assist the SHG to access assistance from the financial institutions.
The SHG actively lobby and advocate for the rights of the members with the local leaders, Government officers etc.
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