Over the past years, Don Bosco Devadurga has been running a bridge school centre for child labourers. The school course, which is a process of rescue and rehabilitation, lasts for one year. “Our staff makes an assessment of the child’s learning level at the beginning, and organises them into learning groups, depending on the educational status of the child. Some of the children are still illiterates when they come here”, explains Fr Kuriakose, who is in charge of the child labour programmes of Don Bosco Devadurga. Each child has to complete the basic educational training before he or she will be sent to mainstream school and to government hostels later. If the learning level after twelve months still not up to the regular school standard, one extra year of bridge school is possible.
Don Bosco Devadurga has rescued hundreds of children so far. At the moment, 36 girls and 10 boys, who were rescued from child labour, are resident. One of them is the nine-year-old girl Anandha (name changed). A year ago, Anandha lived in the village Mariamanahalli with her parents and two older brothers. Unlike them, she was not allowed to go to school. Anandha’s family was very poor, and she had to produce ropes with her parents to sell at the market in Devadurga twice a week.
In 2021, Anandha’s aunt informed the Don Bosco fathers about her niece. The aunt requested Fr Kuriakose to take care of the little girl. “I felt very happy about going to school. I like the classes and I have a lot of friends here”, Anandha says. “Anandha is also a very good dancer”, add her teachers, Suvarna and Sujatha.
Anandha wants to become an officer of the Indian Police Service (IPS). In this capacity, she wants to fight criminals and protect other children. “Children should be able to go to school and shouldn’t have to work”, she says with a smile, and a lot of self-confidence. In other words, Anandha is also saying on behalf of other girls, “Our Time Is Now — Our Rights, Our Future.”
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