From New Delhi to Shillong: ERD's visit to India
Our Programme Office Naidi McDonnell visited India in April for a monitoring visit to Pratyek, a project visit to the Journeying Together India cluster and to represent ERD at the Mission Capacity Support Team Workshop.
Naidi’s first stop was to visit Pratyek, an children’s advocacy project based in New Delhi. Pratyek facilitates a Children’s Parliament, which is made up of 18 children from the 3 surrounding slums. Each child is a ‘minister’ for one of the 17 SDGs together with an extra 18th SDG representing children. The children work closely together regardless of age, gender, caste or family income. This project is very much run by the children who make the rules; the Pratyek employees facilitate the meetings and assist only when needed. Each minister comes up with issues they can address in their community specific to their SDG. One of the examples provided was the prevalence of night time anti-social behaviour around the toilet facilities in the slum that made many females feel intimidated. The parliament collectively wrote a letter and presented it to the local police station requesting they carry out more patrols so that everyone in the slum has equal access to the toilet and washing facilities. They have had many successes including extending the working hours of a pedestrian traffic light beside the project so that the children could use the light after school hours. They also discuss broader concerns in their slums such as one of their friends being married at a young age. This topic was discussed in detail and representatives went to the parents to discuss possible solutions. On a national scale Pratyek has linked in with Children’s Parliaments throughout India, and have been working with other NGOs to help set up additional Children’s Parliaments. This project addresses issues that concern children at a local level, but elevates their voices to a national level ensuring that they are included in the discussion of children’s rights throughout India. This is evident in the success they have had in securing access to many embassies and politicians who sign pledges of support. During Naidi's visit, two of their beneficiaries were interviewed by BBC and promoted on Twitter to discuss the issues of climate change in relation to children. The regular meetings and activities provide the children with structure and stability that they often lack at home. It teaches them the importance of advocacy and equality, and positively impacts their confidence and self-worth.
Naidi then ventured to visit the Journeying Together cluster in India before attending the Mission Capacity Support Team's bi-annual meeting in Shillong. The MCST project is mid-way through its three year plan, so a mid-term review was conducted during the week in addition to learning sessions on technology, the finance manual and diversification of funding. Naidi presented on safeguarding best practices and on ERD’s updated policy and partner requirements.
We thank all those at Pratyek, Journeying Together and the MCST for their warm welcome.