Empowering children for a better tomorrow

Pre-school education at Aanganwadi centre in CRY Supported project in Dakshinpuri, Delhi

Driven by the extraordinary dream to see a day when no Indian child would be deprived of rights as basic as survival, development, protection and participation, Rippan Kapur, a young airline purser, started CRY way back in 1979 and there has been no looking back since. CRY works with grass root organisations in 23 states across India in about 157 districts. CRY is an innovator, an incubator and a catalyst. Read on to know all that the NGO is doing –

Priyanka Saxena

When was CRY floated and with what objective?
CRY was started way back in 1979 by Rippan Kapur, a young airline purser, along with six friends around his mother’s dining table. Rippan was driven by the extraordinary dream to see a day when no Indian child would be deprived of rights as basic as survival, development, protection and participation. They felt the pressing need to do something to improve the situation
of the underprivileged Indian child. They started CRY as a link between the millions of Indians who could provide resources and thousands of dedicated people and organizations at the grassroots-level who are struggling to function for lack of them. This “link” or enabling position has determined CRY’s strategic choices at every juncture – from the fundraising methods it
employs, to the nature of its relationship with the NGOs it partners with.
All through the early, difficult years, it was Rippan’s passion and conviction that drove CRY. He was firmly convinced that each of us can, in our own small way, be the agents of change, and when enough of us become one, the impact is a lasting change for the better. All he asked of people was that they help CRY by doing what they were good at. As he put it, “What I can do, I
must do.” Although Rippan passed away in 1994, his vision for underprivileged children ensures that CRY continues to grow.

Over the years, what have been the core areas that CRY has focused on?
Over the years, CRY has been focussing on ensuring children in its project interventions across India are not deprived of their basic rights. CRY works on all child right indicators –education, nutrition, health, protection and child participation. The organisation’s vision linked goals for children include free, equitable quality education for children in the age group of 3-18 years, free equitable quality primary health care for mothers and children, reduction in the rate of child malnutrition, protective environment for children that is free from violence, abuse and exploitation and recognition of children’s voices as unique and significant.
Apart from on ground advocacy, CRY also focuses on policy advocacy by engaging with policymakers as one of its key stakeholders to highlight significant gap areas and shares its strategic inputs in regards to laws and policies impacting children. This also includes advocacy on higher budget allocation for children’s schemes and children being top priority in the
development agenda of the government.

Can you please share details of some of its landmark projects?
CRY works with grass root organisations in 23 states across India in about 157 districts. CRY is an innovator, an incubator and a catalyst. CRY’s support to grass root organisations has led to transformational changes in children’s lives. Our support to individuals and organisations has also led them to dream big, to experiment, to innovate and achieve our common goals for
children. Take the example of our project partner ‘Guria’ in Uttar Pradesh, which works to rescue, rehabilitate and prevent children from becoming victims of child trafficking. CRY’s relentless support to the founder who started the organization at the age 19 has led Guria to rescue hundreds of trafficked children till date and due to its efforts in 2009 trafficking became a
non-bailable offence.
CRY’s approach to child rights and empowering children is also unique in many ways. We have established Children’s Collectives in all of our projects on ground and encourage children’s voices to be heard and create young role models and leaders from our communities to understand, discuss the issues and influence others to stand up for their rights. The
transformational change brought about in the lives of thousands of children by this concept of “Bal Mach” has been unbelievable.
CRY’s tries innovative approaches on ground, for instance using sports as a medium of empowerment of children. Many of our projects use sports like football and cricket to give a sense of empowerment to children, positively impacting all other aspects of child rights like education and child labour, child marriage, etc.
CRY undertakes nationwide campaigns to advocate the cause of children’s rights. One of the landmark initiatives has been the Election Advocacy campaign to ensure political parties give children top priority in their election mandates. CRY has also undertaken extensive Budget Advocacy campaigns at the national and state level to advocate for higher allocation to various
children’s schemes.

What are the new focus areas/projects that CRY is currently working on?
Our strategic focus remains on the most marginalized children and creation of sustainable, permanent impact in their lives. At CRY, we are committed to our vision for a happy, healthy and creative childhood for every child. We will continue to make children and their rights a priority; we have reiterated goals that CRY as an organisation is committed to strive for. We
will continue focus on all child right indicators and advocacy areas – like budget advocacy and election advocacy.

What are the main objectives/working ethics and guidelines followed by CRY?
At CRY we work towards a happy, healthy and creative child whose rights are protected and honoured in a society that is built on respect for dignity, justice and equity for all. We see ourselves as an enabler, supporting grass-root initiatives on child rights issues. Each of our initiatives combines direct action with children, community mobilisation and policy influencing components to maximise impact and ensure long-term viability. Apart from the on-ground work that we support, it is imperative for all our stakeholders, including the privileged audience to support the cause of children. We plan to continue with our awareness campaigns targeted at this audience. Also, we have a vibrant volunteer base that wholeheartedly supports us in our cause and we aim to strengthen the same. The ‘YOU’ in Child Rights and You, is the real hero, giving hope to a million children ensuring their bright future. A rights-based approach ensures that entitlements are available to all children without any discrimination. They are universal and non–negotiable. Along with our project partners, CRY ensures that the government fulfils their duty by providing the necessary infrastructure and services as per the needs of the people and at the best quality possible. We believe that the best interest of the child needs to be put at the centre of all policy, legislation and practices affecting their lives.

We adopt a comprehensive monitoring and evaluation process for all of our partners. Financial risk and mitigation is done at regular intervals to gauge financial health of programs.

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