I'm working for HELP International as a Country Director in Hyderabad, India from May-August 2010.

The MV Foundation

MV foundation. Of the children who reach school in India, 58% complete primary education, the others drop out. Estimates of child laborers in India vary from 8.4 million (national sample survey ’04) to 12.67 million (census 2001) in the 2001 census in India the total population of children from 5-14 year old was 253 million. 87 of those children did not attend school. Although it has dropped from 50% in 1991, there is room for improvement in the child labor laws.

The MV foundation is at the forefront in the fight against child labor and has really impressive results. We have been meeting with them on and off and are going to start some internships with them this week doing advocacy work and helping them prepare for an august meeting where 16 different NGOs from around the world are being flown to Hyderabad to meet with the MV foundation and learn their best practices. In one district back in 1996 there were about 40,000 laborers. Now, there are 5-7,000.
MVF has found a really innovative way to fight child labor. They work structurally in a top down approach through advocacy to the government and making no excuses for child labor. They also work on the ground going door-to-door, village-to-village. They provide schooling for children and they have enough best practices research and backing to have a replicable model.

How it works: a village volunteer will go door to door and ask about the children and find out if they go to school or if they work. They then have multiple community meetings to get people sensitized to facts such as, in an average month, a working child will work 28 days, a working mother will work 21 days and a working father will work something like 4 days. Ironically, the father makes twice as much as the wife and four times as much as the child.

As they help parents realize how important it is to educate both their sons AND daughters to fight the cycle of poverty, mentalities change and they are able to send their kids to a free “bridge” school.

These schools are usually 18 months and are an intensive learning experience boarding school for these kids so that when they “graduate” they are able to go into their own age group’s classrooms.

Throughout the years, almost 50,000 children have been put through bridge course camps and over 400,000 working children have been mainstreamed directly into formal schools.
They are really impressive.

here is a picture Caroline took on the way

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