BHUBANESWAR, DECEMBER 22: Survival, protection, education and participation will be the State Government’s guidelines while rehabilitating children affected by last month’s cyclone.
The State Government has adopted the words from the four fundamental rights of children passed in the United Nations’ Convention of Child Rights in 1993. The government has planned to shelter the children in day-care centres, short-stay homes and crisis homes-cum-transit homes.
The Consortium for Rehabilitation of Children (CRC), a forum comprising the Women and Child Development (WCD) department, Orissa State Council for Child Welfare and 69 other NGOs have so far identified 1,200 orphans and 755 children at risk for rehabilitation. “We have to first ensure the survival and protection of children. After that, we can think of their education and participation in the mainstream,” said commissioner-cum-secretary in the WCD Tarun Kanti Mishra.
Though many children have been orphaned in the cyclone, not all are bereft of assets. Under the Community-based Rehabilitation (CBR) programme, the ex-gratia amount of Rs 75,000 given to orphans would be put in a joint account in the name of a special officer from the WCD department and the orphan’s guardian. The monthly interest of Rs 700 from the amount in the bank would be spent for the child.
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The State Government will also form a supervisory committee comprising an NGO member, a local panchayat official and a government official that would periodically inspect if the child is getting the actual benefit.
The State Government has also started a foster mother scheme called `Operation Sneha’ in which a foster mother would be appointed for the orphans in the area. For example, in Jhatipari village of Jagatsinghpur district a widow has been appointed as foster mother to 10 orphaned children. The woman has been provided with utensils and other household items. In other affected areas a search is on for foster mothers and fathers. The rehabilitation process will be undertaken for the next six months after which the programme will be reassessed.
While 18 of the 87 orphanages in the State have shown interest in taking the orphans, many institutions outside the State like Dayasadan Children’s Trust, Bharat Sevashram, Help, Sampark, Shanti Alias Trust and Salam Balak Trust have shown interest in taking all the children orphaned by the cyclone.
Non-governmental organisations’ protest over sending children out of the State notwithstanding, the children will be sent out if it is felt they will be cared for better. “If we can send our children outside the State for higher studies, what is the harm? But we will not send more than 200 orphans out of the State,” the secretary said.
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