Shaping the Social Future

You might have heard about an NGO who works for the welfare of children from poor family background, there are NGOs working for orphan children, children with disabilities, etc. But you might not have heard of NGOs who work for the children on parents who have or had a title of prisoner once. The amount of stigma in the society for the children of prisoners (be it incarcerated or undertrial) is so much that sometimes it leads to turning that child into a criminal.

If you have seen the old Bollywood movie ‘Deewar’ and its famous scene of ‘Mera baap chor hai’, you know the society’s stigma and how it affects the child to the core for him to turn towards crime when no other options are in sight. It is important to check the development and difficulties of these children to prevent them turning into future criminals. And that is the exact work taken upon by India Vision Foundation (IVF) under program CVF (Children of Vulnerable Families). Bawana is a place in Delhi which is infamous for its crime rate. There are a lot of incarcerated or undertrial people in this town and hence the children here are ‘Children of Vulnerable Families’.

Center of IVF in Bawana

When I entered the center, I was greeted warmly by a lot of children. All of different ages. They were excited to meet us. This center is operated by a few IVF employees who are based in that center itself for their daily work. They take care of the proper education dissemination for the children and regularly check their progress. They counsel the children for his/her career as well and visit their homes on regular basis for checking their living environment and the behaviour of their parents.

Inside the room where they study, the walls were covered with paintings made by students, some informative posters. I also came to know that they celebrate the birthdays of everyone student there and there is a chart to keep track of the birth month of every child.

I got to interact with the children there and I came to know about their life, their aspirations, dreams, hobbies, etc. Out of the 10 children I met, at least 5 of them were in higher secondary and were going to start their college life soon. Some wants to be artists, some were interested in sports, while others wanted to go down the scientific road. Some were silent, some were chatty, some just talked enough. But all of them looked quite happy. While leaving the place they gave us a small souvenir card thanking us for visiting. That gesture truly touched my heart.

Purpose for Visit

These children have been connected with India Vision Foundation for very long. Now IVF wants these children to further spread the message of IVF in the world by being the ambassador of the organization and join them in the social cause. For this purpose, they want to evaluate the personality type of individual children and later shape their personality for being an ambassador. The 16pf questionnaire was used to evaluate this. As the children in that area, not all understands the English language, we translated the questionnaire to them in Hindi verbally while they were filling the form. Although the questionnaire is standardized for the age of 16 years and above, for getting an idea of their personality, even a rough one.

All the two hundred questions were answered in few hours. Yes, it took a few hours to complete that questionnaire as it was the big one but the process was beautiful. This gave me a chance to get to know them, talk to them, share the thing about myself, listening to their banter. We laughed, we lunched, we played as well.

One interesting game we played for lightening the mood between all was the story making. Where, we started to speak one sentence each so that we can make up a story which is weird in the end and can make everybody laugh. As I expected, the minds of everyone there was quite creative and we had a lot of fun.

Talk with the Head

The lady who was the head of that center had a brief talk with me in which I came to know about a lot of information about their work and the challenges they face during it. I came to know that the children they work for are all of different age groups and attend different classes at different time slots, it was becoming difficult for them to accommodate all of them into the center. So, they had to take help of coaching institute. For this, the organization have to pay the coaching institute for the training of those children.

It is also a difficulty for them to reach in every area. Ideally there should be centers like these in every 10km area but as not all places have such children from vulnerable families it is not possible and because of that they call and check the wellbeing of children and take their updates. Besides studying in the centers, they do art and craft activities, painting as well.

I got to know that the parents of these children may or may not be supportive of this activity, and it is a constant work consuming activity to convince their parents that it is for the betterment of the child. Sometimes the father is an abusive one as well. In these cases, it becomes more important to take care that the child doesn’t go down the wrong road.

My Evaluation

The accommodation is one of the biggest issues they face and as of the moment they don’t need to setup more centers as well. The usage of online classes is not a good option because not everyone has access to free internet. In these scenarios, instead of outsourcing all the children they can keep shifts for different age groups to come on certain days of week.

The other issue is of their family who can be abusive to them. The foundation is itself doing a very good work with home visits and telephone updates but a small something more would be to include a meditation and yoga sessions for them as it promotes both mental and physical health. Activities like sports can also be promoted through encouraging the children in participating for various sports competitions and registering them.

The center is doing a great job in taking care of the children and the fruitful results of years of hard work is seen through when the children, on their own accord, starts working for the cause of the foundation.

In this blog I tried to convey my viewpoint as a Criminologist. Many might wonder about what is Criminology so I may as well answer it that it is simply a study of crime from every single aspect, be it psychology, law, causes, or prevention. It is an all-round study of crime. I believe that crime prevention is a work of art. First you understand it, draw prevention strategies, fill in the details, finally present or apply your work. Normally, it is said that children are like that unbaked sand which can be moulded however the potter wants. So, teaching the children from vulnerable families might be quite helpful in crime prevention.

About the Author

I am Janvi Shah, a 22-year-old student from National Forensic Sciences University, Gandhinagar who is pursuing Masters in Criminology (with specialization in Forensic Psychology). India Vision Foundation does Prison Reform work which is related to the course I am pursuing. As a part of my course, I did a one-month long internship at this Foundation to hone my skills. I hail from Ahmedabad, Gujarat and have a keen interest in learning about scrime science related fields.