UNICEF (United Nations Childrens’ Fund) held a virtual field visit on Sunday on their Facebook page, which was attended by actor Trisha Krishnan.
Trisha is the UNICEF celebrity advocate for child rights in Chennai. In November 2017, she became the first South Indian actor to be made a UNICEF celebrity advocate.
Moderated by RJ Sanobar Sultana, the online event saw six child rights champions from Chennai share their experiences of tackling violation of rights. Calling them “young heroes”, the interaction delved deeper into the children’s ambitions.
Stressing on the need for awareness, Trisha urged children to continue with their work without thinking of whether or not they could achieve their goals.
The actor has been vocal about child rights and has voiced her opinion on the detrimental conditions of Kashmiri school-going children after Article 370 was abrogated.
Sharing his experience, Madhan from Korrukkupet said after he and his sister were unable to attend online school lessons, he aspired to become the chief minister.
“We felt bad seeing all our friends attending online classes. Like me, many other students would have struggled and lost their education. No student should face this situation. All students should get inclusive and equal education. That’s the only reason behind my ambition,” he said.
Asked what he would change in the education system, he said that he would ensure the supply of clean drinking water and put together practices to ensure safety during a pandemic.
With the Covid-19 pandemic endangering the right to education for children in his community, Althaf from Ennore got along with other students to stop the only matriculation school in the area from turning into a Covid ward unit. The aspiring filmmaker has made videos for UNICEF featuring children working as child labourers and talked about the conditions that they were subjected to.
“When Covid started spreading, it was planned to move the patients into that school and get them treated there. People feared that later on, children would get affected if they attended classes there. Parents wouldn’t send their children to that school since Covid patients were being treated there. So, we spoke to the authorities, like the police and doctors, and insisted not to move patients there. Now, the school is running well. They are conducting classes for 1st to 3rd standards and maintain all health and safety protocols like wearing masks and social distancing,” he said.
Addressing the issue of mental health among children, he added: “During the lockdown, children would be mentally affected. So, I made a video on how they clean the house and what they can do. Even I was doing the same.”
Chandrika, a victim of child labour, said that children from lesser privileged communities often require counselling but hardly get any assistance.
“We are four sisters. A few years back, my father fell ill, and I could not continue my education. During that time, I had to take care of my family by taking up a job. Arunodhaya (an NGO) came and spoke to us and our parents during that situation and they helped us to go back to school,” she said.
Chandrika is now pursuing a degree in Psychology and wants to study Community Psychology to help her community better.
Moved by the 2019 Pollachi sexual assault and extortion case; Akhila, a first-year student of BCom at Quaid-E-Millath College, decided to pursue law.
Hailing from a fishing village, aspiring journalist Subitha believes that education is the only way to stop social evils like child marriage. “When a child gives birth to another child, there are more chances of them dying,” she said.
She has organised street plays and put up posters at temples and churches, to create awareness about child marriage.