Empowering the Marginalized will Directly Impact the Development: Jiji John

Child Help Foundation
Photo Credit: Child Help Foundation

Children are the future of every nation and the world economy. The well-being and development of every child has been covered in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Child Help Foundation, a not-for-profit organization, has been working since 2010 with a vision “to reaching out to marginalized children in need, empowering them, bringing smiles and making them future ready.”

Jiji John

Mr. Jiji John, Executive Director, Child Help Foundation talks to MediaCatalyst about Child Help Foundation’s journey, attainment of SDG 2 in the wake of Coronavirus pandemic, the situation of underprivileged children for whom classroom learning was the only option, and the future plans.

Excerpts from the interaction.

1.       At the outset, we would like to applaud you for the remarkable work the organization is doing in the field of child rights. Take us through your journey.

The journey undertaken by us is not an easy one, but our focus is doubly strengthened by the commitment and dedication of each of our team members, who firmly believe in the vision of the organization and work tirelessly in accomplishing the same.

It’s very difficult to measure success in providing humanitarian aid to the underprivileged children and communities in measurable terms. Nevertheless, through our continuous interventions and with the support of our esteemed donors and corporate partners, we have created a culture of smiles.

Identifying the causes to support and then finding the appropriate team to make the dream of the underprivileged their own was the first challenge. However, with small successes, came in more like minded people which has been the basic foundation of the contribution of the organization towards the society. Getting the Donors to support the cause was the next big challenge. However, a combination of Individual and Corporate Donations gave the fillip to make the projects a reality and from there on started the journey to serve the society with a focused approach.

We look forward to achieving new heights and successfully surmounting the future challenges that may come our way!

2.       As per a recent UN report, achieving SDG 2: zero hunger won’t be possible by 2030 because of the pandemic and a global recession caused by it. The children would be among the worst hit. What are your thoughts and what could be done? 

India, with 1.3 billion of a population is the world’s second-most populous country after China. An estimated 26 million children are born every year. It comprises almost 13.1 percent of the child population aged 0-6 years.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 43 percent of Indian children are underweight, which is on the higher side. Overcoming Hunger is more about securing enough food for people. Providing them with needful amenities like whole grains, and pulses that have nutritional value and will add up to a child’s health. The Food supply chain has been improving over the years and various government schemes have proved to be effective in reducing malnutrition. For example, states like Odisha and Tamil Nadu have been providing free ration to the BPL category and also making low cost meals available in the urban areas. This coupled with an increased participation of individuals and corporates in the CSR activities can help reduce the malnutrition by a large extent and make zero hunger a reality by 2030.

We humans need to stand up for our race, we need to come together and contribute to saving the lives of the needful. This pandemic has crippled us all, but we are still capable of helping the one on the ground.

No child will ever sleep empty stomach we every single home contribute as little as one meal.

3.       Now that the scenario has pushed the classes to go online and looking like becoming the new norm, how do you see the situation change for the underprivileged for whom classroom learning was one of the only ways to access education and one time meal to a certain extent?

Accelerated economic growth and the use of technology for the social sector have helped our country in multiple ways, but when the rural areas or slums are considered people are still not aware of the advantages that can be pulled off using technology. In this digital world where being digital and having an online presence helps in economic growth and provides more learning and techniques that can help people in multiple ways, yet some people do not understand their advantages, opportunities that are available to them. This necessitates a lot of facilities to train the population to become digital-friendly.

Despite rapid growth, improvement, and ongoing development, an unacceptably high number of our population continues to suffer from the harsh and multidimensional loss. The situation is desperate, the impact of the pandemic and the lockdown on children has to be understood and acted upon. There are many homes with no laptop, internet or even a smartphone. These poor kids have their future at stake as many of them will lose interest in studies, will join their parents for work. We cannot wait for the pandemic to be over, for these kids to start with their schooling again. Along with our government, we also need to figure out a solution for these invisible children to get back again. There can be community centres where television and internet based education can be fixed in backward areas. There have been encouraging stories of individuals and groups sponsoring Mobiles, Laptops and TVs to the needy individuals. Kerala state is on example where they have tried to bridge the gap and connect all the gaps during this pandemic

4.       COVID-19 has hit us all hard but has been extra harsh on the underprivileged and marginalized. How have you ensured that your efforts reach the needy? What were the challenges you faced while carrying out the initiatives with restrictions being in place?

While the uncertainties of the ill effects of Covid19 were setting in, Child Help Foundation went to the forefront and informed the frontline workers such as the Police Force and Municipal Corporation Workers about the possible ways in which the virus could spread and how the risk can be reduced. CHF distributed free soaps, sanitizers, gloves and masks at all the locations where the advocacy was undertaken.

Once the lockdown started, there were many who got stuck in their homes without any food. Child Help Foundation, with the support of volunteers and partner NGOs, started distributing cooked meals and ration kits to the needy in many parts of the country which included Mumbai, Thane, Delhi, Kolkata, parts of Assam, parts of Odisha, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Chennai. More than 7 Lakh people were benefited as a part of this activity which is still going on in many locations. It was a big relief to the marginalized, underprivileged society during the crisis of availability of food grains. In addition to the above, CHF also catered to thousands of stray animals during the lockdown, by feeding them.

The Health workers were provided free PPE kits in many Hospitals, where the warriors were fighting the COVID19 by attending the patients at the risk of being infected.

5.       A decade is a notable time to spend in the social sector. After strongly establishing yourself what are the future plans of the Child Help Foundation?

At Child Help Foundation, each day is a new beginning and the entire team is charged up to serve the society in all possible means. We have our direct project offices in all the 4 Major Metros of India comprising of Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai and are also present in Thane, Pune, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Kochi and Dimapur. Our projects have been implemented in more than 17 Indian states till now.

Going forward, we would like to focus on the UN Sustainable Development goals Comprising of SDGs 2, 3, 4, 5,6,11, 13 and 15 on an accelerated scale to increase the number of beneficiaries in order to meet the SDG goals of 2030. Also, two new verticals related to Beach Clean Up and Animal Support also has been introduced to support the Climate Action and Life on the land.

CHF will also strive to increase the activities on the ground through more volunteers and NGO partners combined with the able support of Individual and Corporate Donors. This will help us scale up much faster.

We believe that empowering the marginalized will have a direct impact on the Nation’s progress on all fronts.