Planet Hope stands up for the rights of underprivileged children, such as child workers, street children and other kids at the bottom of society. These children have a poor economical outlook and the fact that they have casteless (dalit) or tribal background reinforces this. Our central focus lies on the universal right to education: thé key to break the vicious circle of poverty, underdevelopment and poorly paid work.
Children in the stone quarries live in extreme poverty. Their parents are the poorest of the poorest, mostly migrant workers and outcasts (dalits), coming from the neighbouring state of Tamil Nadu. They are so called “bonded labourers”. Due to financial debts, which they owe to quarry owners, they are stuck and exploited as modern slaves. As miners in a hot and moonlike environment they work tremendously hard in order to survive and their wages are extremely low. With explosives, drills and chisels they work on the big rocks and the smaller rocks are collected and transported with trucks. Needless to say that their wages are barely enough to survive and they have live in shacks, closely located at the quarry sites. Money for education and medical help is not available. Children do not go to school and most of the times they wander around on the quarry sites and even help their parents to add to meagre wages they make. This unhealthy environment is a dangerous place and catching a disease here is easy, especially respiratory- and lung disease are common, due to the dust clouds that are floating around all the time.
Surviving on the streets
An estimated 65,000 street children live in Bangalore alone. New children arrive at the train stations every day. Sometimes not older than 8 years, mostly from the countryside to earn an income in the big city. To survive, they beg along the busy arterial roads and shopping streets, or fall into petty crime. They can also be found in train stations, where they earn money by carrying the luggage or cleaning the trains. At night, the children sleep on the edge of the road on a piece of cardboard, or on top of the kiosks in the train station. The poor conditions under which the children live bring other problems such as illnesses, alcohol abuse and mistreatment. Our Indian partner organization ECHO India takes care of many street children and tries to bring them back home. If this fails, they offer shelter, guidance and training.
Education as central pillar
Central element in our approach is the universal right to education: the key to breaking the vicious circle of dire poverty, underdevelopment and underpaid or no work. We do this by offering a broad education program. We help children to overcome obstacles to enter school, or to prevent them from drop out early. We encourage teenagers to learn a trade and follow (vocational) training. Among others in our Learning Center, a vocational school for practical and vocational education. This offers them the opportunity to continue learning, to obtain a (professional) diploma and to be able to manage independently in society. We also support local schools with money, materials and knowledge.
Most of the times it is necessary to give them a solid foundation, before we can work on their (educational) development. This solid foundation consists of medical help, psychological guidance, a healthy diet and even housing.
Around the child
The family situation of the child plays a crucial role in the child’s growth. Therefore Planet Hope supports social programs in the direct surroundings of the child. This can vary from educating parents on hiv/aids, alcohol addiction and women’s rights to stimulating micro-entrepeneuring.
Exchange of knowledge and experience
Finally, Planet Hope promotes the exchange of knowledge and experience in these areas between governments, non-governmental organizations, companies and knowledge institutions in both the Netherlands and India. We do this by setting up (knowledge) exchange and internship programs.