20 Jun 2011

CHILDLINE is 15 today, June 20, 2011

Voices from 1996:

Didi theres a fight on the station. . . can you come!”  
Raju is bleeding the hospital will not admit him. . . please come!”  
Will you be there for us when we need you? Early in the morning. . . and late in the night?” 
We roam ten cities. What can you do for us?  It costs money to make a call. What happens when we are broke”.
We know there are people doing things for children but don’t know where to go.”

Jeroo Bilimoria

Jeroo Bilimoria, a faculty member  of TISS, was also running MelJol, a community-based school program for building citizenship among children, approached Dr. Armaity Desai, her mentor, and Director of TISS.

Could TISS incubate a Tele- Helpline for street children?
Yes, but no new buildings or institutions. A new methodology would have to be evolved to work with resources that already existed. And for sure no phones would ring inside TISS.”

Dr. Armaity Desai

Needed first: an access line - a one-point contact that would quickly connect children to concrete, real-time services that they need during or after a crisis. Once, the urgent, emergency services were provided, the Helpline would counsel the child further and ask if she needed more support. It would open up a bouquet of long-term, rehabilitation services for her to avail. The tele-helpline would reach out to children.Impact depends on awareness of how to use a phone to demand protection and rights. Outreach and public education critical. The Helpline would align- for the first time ever- all  Children’s Service Organizations working with Mumbai children into one service hub. CSOs would coordinate to ensure that children accessed relevant outfits at critical times, depending on the kind of support they needed.

Dus… Nau… Aath !”

Street Children designed and conducted a needs assessment study with 500 peers using a pictographic questionnaire.

Would their friends use a phone service run by street youth: Why? When? Where? What would be their expectations? “Yes , they would”! 

1993- letter to MTNL for a number. 1996- After two dharnas (agitations) by the children, and the threat of a hunger strike, the national toll-free number—1098—was allotted.
Father Placie Fonseca, Director of Snehasadan, friend and mentor to hundreds of Mumbai children, suggested CHILDLINE. The children gave their approval. The helpline had a name: CHILDLINE –1098

Dus..Nau..Aath”- came from the Children
Logo concept from Street children: a bindaas (carefree) child . Designed as Amul Boy’s twin by Eustace Fernandes.

CHILDLINE inaugurated: June 20 1996 as an experimental project of the Department of Family and Child Welfare, TISS in collaboration with Snehsadan and the Vatsalya Foundation. The Dorabji Tata Trust provided the start-up resources. 5 support (Asara, Bandra East community centre, Hamara club, Premsagar, Youth for Unity and Voluntary Action(YUVA) and 7 resource organizations ( Co-ordination committee for Vulnerable children(CCVC), National Addiction Research Centre (NARC), Project Mainstream, Salam Balak Trust, Shakti and UNICEF.

Calls in the first year: June 20,’96 – June ‘97: 6618 calls- 5760 ‘fun calls’:
                - 858 assistance calls of which medical was 68.53%;
                - 590 calls were from railway stations,
                - 52.56% were during night time,
                - maximum calls in Sept/Oct;
                - 34.50% were from street children,
                - 67% from age group 10-18yrs.

Some cases:
15th June 1996: Aslam, street child referrd Vijay Kumar (Mahadeo) Visvakarma, 12 yrs at 11 PM – hospitalized, determined as Blood cancer- Leukemia.
16th June 1996: Subhash, 16 years, Jaundice.
13th Sept 1996: Padmakar, 16 yrs, TB.
13th Oct 1996: Anamik, open wound on amputed leg- refused for treatment by JJ hospital and GT , finally treated and reabillitated.
25th Dec 1996: Babloo, 14 years, TB, refused treatment by hospitals, Died in 2 weeks.

Today on June 20th, 2011:

The CHILDLINE service is available in 148 cities including half a dozen districts across 26 states. 2.5 million calls are serviced annually. As of March this year we had crossed 21 million calls. About 2.5 million children have received direct intervention over the years.
However, poised as we are on the threshold of the 12th five year plan commencing April 2012, we are bracing to cover all 640 districts of India, knowing we would then service about 8 million calls annually with 1.5 million direct intervention cases a year, and have a network of 2500 partner organizations and over 15,000 CHILDLINE team members across the country.

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