Ignite, Bhumi’s supplementary education programme for underprivileged children impacts many children’s lives by imparting the skills needed to develop and contribute to society. However, intervention in certain areas like mental health and protection against abuse is limited. With the intention to address this gap, volunteers from the Mathematics project, along with facilitators from NIMHANS, organised a two-day workshop on Child Protection and Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) Sensitization.
Dr. Lakshmi Sravanti, MBBS, MD, (DM), Senior Resident, Department of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, NIMHANS and Meetali Devgun, Ph.D Scholar, Department of Clinical Psychology, NIMHANS agreed to conduct a workshop for 14 of our volunteers – they would then sensitize children at our centers and train other volunteers who would then go on to sensitize their children over the course of the academic year.
On Feb 22, Day 1 of the workshop, the session started with brief introductions. Later, participants were requested to re-connect with childhood and share their experiences— a few shared some of the most difficult experiences from their past and how they overcame challenges. Subsequently, Dr. Sravanti and Meetali introduced the volunteers on power dynamics with children being the lowest in the social hierarchy, considering their age and maturity. Not to mention, socio-economic status, gender, disability, and HIV status that makes them most vulnerable. Key areas of child development— physical, social, language, cognitive and emotional— were introduced to make volunteers cognizant of the abilities and needs of different age groups. Post lunch, volunteers were counselled on communication techniques— establishing rapport, acknowledging emotions, and carrying a non-judgmental attitude— through role-plays and scenarios to facilitate supportive relationships between volunteers and children. Volunteers were also equipped with a framework to identify problems and contexts and to understand how children perceive and internalize their experiences.
On Feb 23rd, Day 2 of the workshop, the session started with an introduction to trauma and its impact on children, followed by child sexual abuse (CSA) sensitization. Consequently, volunteers were engaged in case analyses and role-play to provide first-level responses and to be cognizant of immediate and long-term interventions for CSA. Finally, we were briefed on systemic issues and dilemmas of mandatory reporting in CSA.
We believe that sensitising is a gateway to understanding one’s basic rights and ensuring personal safety, and our volunteers shall strive to ensure children’s holistic wellbeing.
WordSmith: Harshini C (Volunteer, Bengaluru)
Bhumi’s Ignite Programme at shelter homes, supported by corporates like Oracle, BNP Paribas, Flex, and IM Gears Pvt. Ltd., provides supplementary education through weekend volunteering.