Did you know that over 250,000 children on construction sites have little or no access to basic nutrition, health or education?

Phenomenon: A growing silicon city produced the need for cheap labour, and offered quick employment. Unskilled workers migrated from the drought-prone areas of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, bringing their families, exposing them to hunger, slums, and crime.

And so, in 1993, Outreach (a Non Governmental Development Organisation) set up a single day care centre for seven children, with Faria Builders. This expanded to 15 day-care centres in the city, caring for over 1000 children. Onsite works towards improving the children’s quality of life, by addressing their physical, intellectual, and emotional needs.  

The centres are based on construction sites, run with the builders’ cooperation, and are migratory. Resources for the centres are mobilised in a variety of ways: builders provide classroom space; volunteers, including school and college students, help with material; sponsors look in to salaries, training and nutrition; the children’s parents pay a nominal admission fee, when they can.

There is an emphasis on preschool education, supported by a set of teaching aids developed by the Onsite staff. Using clay and colour, seeds and stones, mobiles and simple display charts, the rudiments of math, science and language are communicated effectively and creatively. Action songs, role-playing and story telling reinforce the learning imparted. Basic skills normally taken for granted, like crossing a road, are also taught.

All this is achieved through regular interaction with the parents. They are also encouraged to participate in their child’s development. In addition to operating the day-care centres, the experienced, qualified, 25-strong Onsite staff also ensures that there are regular health camps on the construction sites in an effort to create awareness. The children are treated at these camps for common ailments, with referrals to established medical institutions for the more severe cases. Onsite has strong ties with the following medical institutions: St Martha’s, Primary Health Centres in RT Nagar and Rajarajeshwari Nagar, Jayadeva Institute of Cardiology, Victoria Hospital, Bowring Hospital, Vani Vilas Hospital, KC General Hospital, and Minto Eye Hospital.

Onsite’s intervention is long term in nature, and to this effect, they have developed a comprehensive, five-stage development programme, which extends beyond providing relief at the pre-school level:
Stage 1: Establishing day-care centres, focus on health and nutrition, pre-school and non-formal education
Stage 2: Identifying children for formal education at day-care centres, admission to formal education schools, through networks established through FORCES, CACL, BOSCO and other NGOs.
Stage 3: Admission to residential schools/ hostels
Stage 4: Identifying youth for vocational training at the Onsite Training institute.
Stage 5: Placements; Income-generation programmes through “Micro-finance”, focusing on making the migrant construction worker families self-reliant.
Onsite needs clothes, toys, volunteers, and access to training.

They offer training of their own, in the form of a six-session workshop conducted over two weeks on evolved methodology and techniques of education and community organisation.

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