By Mohammad Kaif (14 years)
RANCHI, India, 20 November 2017 - World Children’s Day was extra special for us child reporters this year. Twenty of us #TookOver the UNICEF office and the Child-Friendly Police Station (CFPS) in Ranchi, Jharkhand.
My friend Payal (13 years) was declared UNICEF Chief for a day. This was a proud moment for me and the rest of the children reporters. Addressing the all staff meeting Payal said, “It is a proud moment for me that I have been designated UNICEF Chief for a day. This honour is not just for me but for every child in the state. As a child reporter, I am aware of the rights of children under the UNCRC which are the right to survival, development, protection and participation. This has given me an opportunity to be the voice for countless children. I dream of a future where all children are healthy, safe, protected and in school.”
She spoke about child marriages in Jharkhand, an issues which is very close to my heart. Child marriage deprives children of their childhood and education which is their birth right. It weights them down with responsibilities and can also affect the health of the girl and her child.
In her speech Payal stressed on the role of the family, community and the government in stopping this social practice. She also said that quality education should be made available for every child.
She and other child reporters posed many questions to the UNICEF staff such as why girls are considered a burden and their education and nutrition not considered a priority. They also asked how UNICEF can help spread the message about the importance of breastfeeding especially within the first hour of life and the use of toilet by all can be taken to the larger community in the villages of Jharkhand.
During the programme, my friends Droupati, Shivam, Khushboo, Anshu, Surabhi, Shikha, Farheen and Suraj also read out their poems on child rights and sung songs about their hopes and dreams.
After that, we travelled to Lalpur and #TookOver the Child Friendly Police Station (CFPS). We were taken around the police station and briefed on its work. The friendly demeanor of the police officers made us very comfortable.
We asked them why most people, especially children were fearful of the police. Police uncle said, that we need not be scared as the police is our friend and teacher. It is their duty to ensure every child is protected and safe in Jharkhand
Police uncle told us to call on 100 and the child helpline number 1098 for assistance at any time. After visiting the CFPS and interacting with the officers, we felt empowered, safe and protecetd.
The 20th of November will remain a memorable day for all child reporters. It gave us an opportunity to know how UNICEF and the CFPS work for the wellbeing of children. We discussed and shared our problems and concerns and also gave suggestions on how they can further improve and strengthen their work for us children.
A day later on 21 November 2017, we were overjoyed to know that me and Asha Rani, a child reporter from Dhalbhumgarh block of East Singhbhum were going to meet with the Chief Minister (CM) of Jharkhand. We were selected to accompany Justin Bhaiya and Yasmin Didi who had come down from New York and Delhi. They had a discussion on child rights issues such as malnutrition and child marriage – issues we as child reporters are very well aware of. But the best moment of the day was when we got to shake hands with the CM and took his autograph. We also handed over a coffee table book with photographs taken by child reporters.
Next day, we accompanied Justin Bhaiya and Yasmin didi to Gandhigram in Angara Block of Ranchi where we visited an anganwadi centre and learnt more about the importance of mother’s milk and nutritious food for babies. Justin Bhaiya also participated in the ‘annaparashan’ ceremony where the baby was fed his first solid food at 6 months.
Justin Bhaiya & Yasmin Didi also interacted with the members of a women only Self Help Group (SHG). Yasmin Didi praised their efforts and said, “I am very happy meeting with you. I have travelled to many states and countries but your work, passion and commitment is extraordinary.”
They also visited one month old Deepika’s house to know more about how the frontline workers and the parents were helping to ensure she is healthy.
Later, we all came back to UNICEF office. Here is when all the fun began with us child reporters finally having an opportunity to interact with Justin bhaiya and Yasmin didi. We told them about our life, our struggles and our hopes and dreams.
We also asked them many questions during our interaction such as how we can put an end to alcoholism in our village as it negatively affects women and children who often become victims of domestic abuse and violence. We also wanted to know how we could bring back our friends to school who had dropped out and were engaged in child labour.
They patiently answered all our questions and listened to our suggestions as well. They told us to keep our dreams alive and to continue with our good work to spread awareness about child rights in our village and community.
Child Reporter Mohammad Kaif is a student of Class 8 in Government Upgraded Middle School in Ormanjhi block of Ranchi in Jharkhand, India.