- ABOUT SAY NO
- AROUND THE WORLD
- THE ISSUE
- TAKE ACTION
The vision of a couple of committed individuals germinated in the slums of Kolkata in 1996 and led to the creation of Prayasam, an organisation which today reaches out to a million children. With a dozen years of experience working with children from both mainstream and marginalized communities, Prayasam has established itself as a regional expert in child rights, particularly the right to participation. Our work stems from the conviction that children possess the potential to transform their local communities by assuming the role of change agents. Through interactive workshops and trainings we are mobilizing group formation with children in diverse, neglected pockets of West Bengal, ranging from slums in the heart of Kolkata to peripheral brick kilns in the city’s outskirts. Prayasam’s innovative work in child participation won its founder, Amlan Kusum Ganguly, the prestigious Ashoka Fellowship in 2006. More recently, Amlan was invited to present his concept at the Global Summit on Urban Population Health by the Rockefeller Foundation in Bellagio, Italy for his innovative solutions to urban health problems in slum areas. This past year, Amlan was selected as one of eight public health leaders to be profiled in Revolutionary Optimists, a documentary film project headed by Stanford University’s Center for Biomedical Ethics, Program in Bioethics and Film. In the year 2010 Amlan has been awarded Indian Achievers’ Award for Social Service from Indian Achievers Forum, New Delhi. Amlan was invited by the Stanford Program in Bioethics and Film to attend the Bay Area Video Coalition’s Producers Institute for New Media Technologies from May 28 through June 6, 2010 in San Francisco, California, as a guest of the Institute. The Producers Institute for New Media Technologies is a ten-day residency with a shared goal of developing and prototyping a multi-platform project inspired by, or based on a significant documentary project. In the year 2011 Amlan has been awarded the Ford Fellowship by the Ford Motor Company Fund and the Picker Center for Executive Education at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.
Unicef, which parented the birth of Prayasam, continued fostering it for the next 12 years together with several prominent citizens of the city. The founders, after much deliberation, decided to tackle the problem of health with its Health for All mission. Since its inception, the goal of the Prayasam team has been education to all and through the process of each one teach one.
Prayasam believes in social justice and challenges all forms of discrimination, especially that based on sex, age, social class, disability, HIV status, sexual preference, religion, race and ethnicity. Through its work with children, the organisation has unique opportunities to transform social attitudes towards boys and girls, as well as gender relations among boys and girls for the next generation.
The organisation recognises that the achievement of full and equal rights for girls will result from changes in social values, public policy and practice. Prayasam works to support both girls and boys to fulfil their potential and become active members of their societies. It recognises the need to understand better the different needs of girls and boys, and to address those needs by directing resources through its programme work in order to improve their positions in society. Prayasam will seek to ensure that girls are not discriminated against and have equal access as boys to adequate food, education, healthcare, shelter, leisure, emotional support and respect. It will promote activities to enhance girls’ self-esteem, their information and knowledge about their rights and their participation in activities and decisions that affect their lives.
Prayasam recognises that boys and girls have different socially defined gender roles and responsibilities and as a result will seek to be aware of these differences and design appropriate programmes and advocacy work in order to respond to these needs. Prayasam will challenge all types of violence, including violence against women, girls and boys but also among boys and men, and among girls and women. Prayasam recognises that gender issues vary between cultures and over time and will address issues of gender equity with great sensitivity in different cultural contexts. Equality, partnership, respect and co-operation between the sexes are values that will be promoted throughout our work. Prayasam will ensure that its principles for gender equity are mainstreamed within the organisation. The principles will be applied to structures and practices within the organisation, and to its members. The organisation will foster an organisational culture that promotes the equitable participation and distribution of power between men and women within the organisation, including on decision-making bodies.
Today, Prayasam's activities have spread to seven districts and assistance has come from the local government, leading business/corporate houses and citizens. Committed individuals from every walk of life have chipped in. Overseas funding agencies and global implementing agencies such as the UNDP, DFID through I/CF KUSP, Global Fund for Children, Save The Children, have also been adequately impressed by its work and funded certain of its activities in a few districts. NGOs like Vikramshila Education Resource Society, World Vision India and Lutheran World Service (India) have also partnered Prayasam to strengthen and spread its peer educator concept.
Since its inception, the goal of the Prayasam team has been to ensure that "every child gets healthcare…and living in a healthy environment".
Over this 14-year period, Prayasam has organised thousands of children in the slum areas to become peer leaders/educators, catalysing lifestyle changes within their communities. Focusing primarily on preventive health, sanitation and hygiene, these children (calling themselves area health minders) are changing the physical and social environment within which they live. Prayasam has developed a unique model based on children's right to participation and development wherein they act as agents of change by forming groups and spreading awareness within their community. The area health minders are supported by Prayasam with information, training and materials.
As we look back on another year and reflect on achievements and obstacles, let us reiterate the key elements that make Prayasam unique: its replicable and strong foundation, a broad vision, encompassing an inclusive geographical approach, a complete coverage, coupled with close links and co-operation with the government.
Action Type: Awareness Raising
Prayasam Ahlladi (indulged ones) serves as a catalyst for grassroot girls organising and movement building in communities. These girls work with girls ignorant about their rights and responsibilities and its main task is to organize these girls to take collective action to shape their o