I consider myself extremely lucky to have been a part of multiple NGOs, especially the ones that help children achieve equitable outcomes as that of a normal middle-class child. During my years as a volunteer and a city lead, I gained a lot of exposure and learned so much from several young minds about life and how insignificant my problems are. It made me the grateful person I am today.
To provide help and assistance to underprivileged, old, and disabled people, several organizations and shelters have been operating in our country. Some of them are run by the government while the others are privately managed. A large number of NGOs are also in place to help with the ever-existing crisis of a proper education system, orphanages, old age homes, and other problems.
The existence of these organizations helps make our country a better place to live in for people that cannot fend for themselves. They provide shelter, education, assistance, medical help, and other essentials for needy people.
While this sounds efficient on paper, the ground reality is very different. During my experience of working as a volunteer in shelter homes for children and with students of a government college, I came across a few loopholes in the system; whether it’s a government-run organization or a private one.
80% of the people who are responsible for distributing the knowledge stop giving their 100% after a while. This may be a result of people not getting paid enough or people getting paid irrespective of their performance.
When it comes to volunteering, some people only do it to get a trophy on their resume which results in them underperforming and affecting the outcome of the whole program.
Some people just do not care enough to use the opportunity to make a person’s life better and end up taking up the spot which could have been given to someone that cared.
Non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) are private organizations that work to assist governmental organizations in implementing schemes or ideologies. Some work to provide education, some provide shelter and some provide aid to whoever needs it.
NGO’s consist of both volunteers and full-time employees. This means that someone has to pay the salary of those employees as well as the training of the volunteers.
These organizations mostly thrive on donations from companies or people. While some people donate in the form of money, some offer to pay for certain operations.
The operations of different NGOs may differ depending upon their objective. For instance, an NGO that aims to provide all kinds of support to children in need of care and protection will have several different operations in itself, including education support, mentorship and financial support for young adults, fundraising, etc.
Having been a part of several on-ground operations, the most important observation I’ve made is that no matter how much impact they make on a child’s education, they play an important role in changing the child's life for the better. They give them another chance at life by not only providing education or financial assistance but also by providing emotional support.
Especially in shelters, where the children do not have a lot of people looking out for them, they depend on volunteers to give them the right advice and prepare them for their exams as well as life.
Some NGOs not only teach the children their school curriculum but also teach them life skills such as:
How to open a bank account
How to use an ATM
How to make efficient use of the internet
Ways to understand and remember a concept
In addition to these skills, several activities are done to promote the children's confidence and help them understand the realities of life.
There are 40% of children who leave shelter homes after 18 years of age and are unable to complete schooling. 50% of them are unable to find paid work and almost 70% of the children are unaware of their after-care entitlements under the law. Some NGOs not only assist when a child is in the shelter but also make sure that if some youth is determined enough, he/she pursues further education or gets a suitable job, depending upon their priorities and circumstances. They provide career counseling, financial assistance, and mentorship when needed.
According to proper estimations, there are more than 1.1 crore street children in India. Street children fall under the category of children with very difficult circumstances (CEDC) and are considered the most threatened of all children in CEDC.
The government has introduced several schemes to combat the problem of lack of education for children. Some of them include:
Sarva Siksha Abhiyan
Midday Meal Scheme
National Program for Education of Girls at Elementary Education
Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya
Like several other schemes in India, these do not hold up very well as a result of corruption and related factors. From the top of the chain, a lot of money and accountability is lost by the time it reaches the children or people responsible on-ground.
People that cannot donate big amounts to organizations, can donate their time by volunteering and helping out as much as they can. As fortunate beings, we can share our knowledge of a subject or life with the children/youth which will help them in more than one way.
In a country like ours where the number of children in need of care and protection is more than the population of an entire developed nation. All the empty schemes like the ones mentioned above cannot do a lot. If every person doesn't take responsibility for making their nation a better place, it cannot be done owing to the size of the problem.
In addition to taking responsibility and action, it is also important to make the concerned people aware of the government schemes. This can be done by informing the shelter authorities or conducting awareness drives in slum areas.
Education might not be the most important factor contributing to a successful nation but it plays a great role in accelerating the process and makes the other parts of life much easier to tackle. So let us all take a step towards a better nation and sign up as a volunteer today.
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