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Helping poor children in India

requires coordinated efforts between civil society and the government. Both have unique strengths that, if combined thoughtfully, can transform vulnerable young lives at scale. Their work takes place in villages and urban slums – they can act at the last mile and use their understanding of cultural context to identify those most in need.

Supporting government development projects

NGOs run projects offering essential services – supplementary nutrition, remedial education and vocational training to help poor children, to support and supplement the state government’s capacity. NGOs flagship programmes support a wide variety of areas of concern – maternal health, universal primary education and sanitation access, as well as serving as hyper-local partners to accelerate the impact of policies and resources. A data-driven culture of measurement and insight enables NGOs to sharpen developmental projects.

Supporting schooling and skilling

Nongovernmental organisations carry out vital programs towards helping poor children with nutrition, health services and shelter. Access to school uniforms, classes and transport build support school enrolment, to ensure that basics like literacy are addressed. As a part of the rehabilitation of working children, NGOs also implement skilling programmes for income generation aimed at breaking the inter-generational poverty cycles. Market-compatible skills are developed, so that youth can find suitable employment or commence a microenterprise business.

Fostering social equity and inclusion

Non-profit organisations create safe spaces to help poor children to participate equally in social institutions. Such environments foster a greater sense of belonging and lay the groundwork for upward social mobility. By promoting inclusivity and challenging discriminatory practices, NGOs contribute to a more equitable society where every child has the opportunity to thrive.

Safeguarding child rights and protection

The activism of NGOs remains crucial in holding authorities accountable for upholding the fundamental rights of children. From rescuing children from hazardous work environments to simultaneously working to strengthen legal frameworks and raise public awareness about child rights, NGOs help ensure their basic needs are met and their dignity is protected.

Equipping future leaders with essential life skills

A plethora of non-formal programmes offered by NGOs equip children with invaluable life skills that empower them to navigate the world as tomorrow’s adults. Notably, digital literacy equips them to participate effectively in the increasingly digital landscape, while health awareness programs foster critical thinking and responsible citizenship, empowering young individuals to advocate for themselves and their communities. Thus, NGOs cultivate children into empowered agents of change who actively contribute to positive social transformation.

Amplifying grassroots participation

NGOs play a critical role in fostering civic engagement among children, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds. By establishing child platforms for active participation in community assessment, planning, and governance, they nurture a sense of self-efficacy and civic commitment in young individuals. This allows children to develop leadership skills, understand their communities, and contribute meaningfully to decisions that impact their lives.

Fueling innovation and scaling impact

NGOs can support and test innovative programmes to expand child empowerment with greater agility, thus creating an environment that allows creative solutions to flourish. Their culture of rigorous impact assessment allows NGOs to identify successful initiatives that can be adapted and scaled up by governments or larger organisations, ensuring a wider reach and lasting positive impact on children’s lives. Thus, NGOs are incubators of innovative solutions that can emerge as sustainable and impactful interventions.

India’s economic rise is increasingly bringing greater benefits to its children through the Government of India’s emphasis on inclusion. The government of India is outspoken about how it is bringing greater last-mile benefits to more beneficiaries, including children and youth. India’s population and the diversity and complexity of India’s communities need greater NGO and state partnership. Collaborative action across the public and private spheres is perhaps the most crucial means to establish a progressive, developed society.

NGOs like Bal Raksha Bharat (Save the Children) have implemented a model of consistent collaboration with an ecosystem of partners, supporters, agencies, and tireless individuals towards giving children access to equal opportunities.  Its work has benefited over 1 crore children, which spans various states and union territories.

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