Apno ke Sang Rahane ki, Khwahish Bachpan Jine ki..!

The hall reverberated with this theme of a ‘Child’s Right to a Family’ during the Annual Support Group Meeting held by the Home-Based Care Program (HBC). The event brought together more than 590 children, youth, and adults from the currently registered families, and the families who have become self-reliant who are infected/affected by HIV/AIDS. Through the various dramas, testimonies, dance, and other acts children, as well as adults, asserted that each child has a Right to a family, and that family is the best place for the child to grow, and enjoy their childhood.

The Annual Support Group Meeting is a meeting where all family members from different support groups across HBC come together. It is a platform where they stand in front of all the other community members, and share their learnings and experiences during the meetings attended. Community members who have phased out from the programme after being self-reliant also participate and share their life experiences. This in turn encourages other community members in building their self-confidence, and giving them the strength that they too can overcome the issues, and live their life fully.

Many times unpleasant situations like a death in the family, clashes between parents, discriminatory behaviour of relatives, and poor health conditions of earning member of the family creates circumstances due to which children are separated from the family and institutionalised. The Annual Support Group Meeting this year  addressed this very problem and asserted the importance and right of children to grow up and blossom in families and communities.

The testimonies particularly by a youth heading the family consisting of his siblings and grandmother who is a caregiver to her grandchild and a single mother to her children brought to light how they braved the various challenges, and used various strategies so the children could remain in the family. They truly were an inspiration to all those present and gave them the strength to overcome their crisis, and leave no stone unturned to keep their children in the family and not to institutionalise them.

Institutionalisation of children should be seen as a last resort and under what circumstances do children need to be placed in the institution was also discussed during the meeting. Members from the Child Welfare Committee (CWC)  Rashmi Kamble and Manik Shinde brought to light the specific situations which necessitate that a child is placed in an institution and asserted on the principle of the best interest of the child guiding them in making the decision. The Deputy Director- Mainstreaming, MDACS Dnyaneshwari Sonawane not only encouraged families to apply for Sanjay Gandhi Niradhar Yojana to strengthen the families but also provided for those interested to list with them on the spot after the programme.

The program achieved what it set out to do when a single mother from the audience affirmed that, “I was finding it difficult to bring up my two children single-handedly and was contemplating to place them in a shelter home. But now I will leave no stone unturned to see that my children grow and blossom under my care and love.”