Mangaluru: A Walk Backwards for a Cause! MADgalore Back-A-Thon-bringing Awareness on Kids at Risk

“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.” – Nelson Mandela

Mangaluru: While all of us walk forward during our day to day life, but this evening nearly 400 people, young and old walked backwards for a good cause. The organization, Make A Difference (MAD) had organized a MADgalore “Back-A-Thon 2015 on Sunday, 13 September 2015 -their motto was to walk backwards to ensure a child’s future doesn’t. The ‘Backathon’ started at 5 pm from Lady-Hill Circle and culminated at TMA Pai International and Convention Centre- where all the participants posed for a mega group photo shot.

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Carrying placards with Thoughtful and Caring messages, the group walked backwards raising the slogan..”One Step..Two Step..We Care More” and each of them spreading the message-” I Enable. I Empower. It’s My Community. I Care”. MAD builds aspiration and dreams in children by exposing them to new careers, new skills, and new ideas by means of field visits, interactions with professionals and workshops. All the walkers were in full spirit and enthusiasm through out the ‘Back-A-thon’ and showed the community that they care for the children who are at risk, and want to make a difference in their lives.

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Speaking to, Vishakha Kamath- Centre Head of Make A Difference said, “Over the last eight years, MAD has been working on empowering children through its programs like “Ed Support” – engaged in providing academic support at a school level, “Discover” – a program aimed at enabling a child to make career decisions and inculcate self-awareness and “Propel” – a program design to ease transition of a child from shelter homes to colleges or jobs. MAD is a national non-profit organisation having its presence in 23 cities, seeking to mobilize young leaders to ensure equitable outcomes for children-at-risk living in shelters. MAD is currently functioning in 77 shelters and interacting with over 4000 children at risk, across the nation. The Vision of the organisation is to ensure that these children are able to at least cross the middle class threshold”.

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This “Back-A-thon was an awareness campaign to bring the community together and own up to the children in shelter homes. To sensitize the community to the problems of these children and encourage action. Citizens in support joined in this Walk in bringing awareness to push back all the injustices and bring these children forward. A great man once rightly said that “There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children”. India is a growing nation and the opportunities are bountiful. So why not let every child have the opportunity to be a part of it, and this event was an attempt to spread awareness. Through this Backathon the volunteers hope to make aware the needs of the most vulnerable part of society and support them by building up an eco – system within our community to be able to give them reliable social safety networks.

Yes, we are all aware about the plight of shelter homes in India and the appalling numbers of cases that put these children at risk there. We know now, about how uncertain the future of these children are, once they step out of the four walls of their shelter homes. We are aware as a community today. The government has so far been supportive in their endeavors to promote child welfare. However, it is unfair on our part to expect the government to take care of all the problems our society is faced with. The community is also responsible to ensure the welfare of these children. Awareness is the stepping stone to a revolution. As a well informed society, we can create a safe space for shelter home children by actively looking out for their well-being and reintegration. We can together erase uncertainty and paint endless possibilities for our children.

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We all know that India is heading towards a glorious and prosperous future. With our economy booming and our human capital growing, very little stands in the way of our pursuit of greatness. We all know about India’s growth in terms of industry, commerce and trade. We see a good deal of indicators to support it on news channels, but what most of us don’t see or hear about in detail is the flip side of our success. India’s success, in terms of its robust outlook was credited to its growing young population which ranked “Number 1” in terms of size by the UN. But what we are not aware of, is that around 40% of our children (below the age of 18) are in or are at the risk of facing very difficult situations.

The statistics seem jarring. It seems quite surprising, that a country whose success in today’s world markets as a result of the growing youth population, houses around 170 million children who have no support systems in terms of a family or a guardian to help them adequately deal with the risks they are being exposed to on a daily basis. These risks include starvation, malnutrition, HIV / AIDS, sexual or physical abuse, all as a result of neglect and the lack of social support. To every light there is darkness- And this is our darkness. India is the home to around 44 million destitute children and over 12 million orphans and abandoned children. Their only refuge seems to be shelter homes and children homes set up by the state or private donors. The picture painted by these institutions is rarely a rosy one. Even under institutional care, these children are exposed to varying degrees of physical / sexual abuse, neglect, risk of malnutrition and discrimination.

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At Make A Difference (MAD) they believe in providing children in vulnerable conditions with equitable outcomes. To most it may seem that the needs of children in child care institutions are largely restricted to material requirements like food, shelter, clothes and a maybe bare minimum education. In reality, their needs are exponentially so much more than just materialistic requirements and to a large extent they revolve around being given the same opportunities that any other child with adequate social support would be entitled to. MAD’s intention is to be able to provide to these children equal opportunities in terms of education, career, social status and adequate social support.

MAD volunteers don’t believe that the community / society is apathetic to their needs. This misconception is not a result of not caring, but, is a result of not being fully aware of the needs of children in child care institutions. They believe that the community / society can take a stand and support these children only when it is fully aware of their needs. By equipping the community with such knowledge and information, volunteers at MAD hope to engage the community and aid them in supporting these children and collectively making a positive change in the life of the child.

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Team Mangalorean congratulates the dedicated and hard-working committee members of MAD-Mangaluru Chapter for organizing this unique project in bringing awareness in the community about the children who are at risk at shelter homes and elsewhere. A job well done, folks! Let us all care more for these children.

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