A Day On-ground: An Insight Into The SACRED Project
Nelson Mandela once said, “History will judge us by the differences we make in the everyday lives of our children”.
Intending to create a meaningful impact with kids, and reduce the stigma that comes with sexual violence and harassment, Pratisandhi launched The S.A.C.R.E.D Project – which stands for “Sexual Abuse of Children: Redressal, Elimination and Deterrence”. S.A.C.R.E.D. works with broadly three stakeholders in cases of Child Sexual Abuse and its prevention: children themselves, parents/caregivers, and teachers.
Our Project Manager, Ishita Gupta, says “When we launched the S.A.C.R.E.D Project, our inspiration behind it was more than just the impact numbers that we could generate. When I was first intimated about the details of the project, I knew this experience was going to be way more special than any other volunteering experience. The work that we do through this project is something that a lot of us were unaware of, as kids. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I have stood on-ground, with a volunteer or an institution head coming in and telling me, “I wish we knew this when we were kids”. Sometimes, while delivering these sessions, it feels as if we are trying to make amends for the wrongs we, or someone we knew, faced as kids. It is as if we are expressing our concern, our love, our consideration for our inner child, and for all these kids sitting in front of us and all the kids of the generations to come.”
With three distinct modules for children, parents, and teachers, we have tried creating content based on a holistic, practical approach, based on the reality and the prevalence of CSA in an Indian context. Our modules are research-backed, authenticated, and developed with a lens of leading our stakeholders to consciously direct towards eliminating the horrors of Child Sexual Abuse.
We have tailored our modules for kids between the ages of 6-11, therefore, under the Children’s Module, we begin by familiarising them with their private body parts and how it is unacceptable for someone to touch them without their consent. We move forward and talk about feelings and emotions, associated with Safe and Unsafe Touch. We reiterate their learnings from time to time by asking them situations-based questions and having an activity-based approach at all times. We also talk about Responding to Unsafe Touch and Recognising your Safety Network with the kids, stressing the idea of reaching out and seeking help in cases of CSA.
The Parents’ and the Teachers’ Module, takes a more complex approach and talks about recognising signs and symptoms of abuse, the Rights and the Wrongs of dealing with a case of Abuse, the Medical and Legal Procedures associated with it, and the role of schools/educational settings, emphasising the importance of awareness and sensitisation against CSA.
Our sessions are all-inclusive and developed for a wide range of audiences, including stakeholders from a low socio-economic background. We target diverse institutes to create an impact through these sessions including not-for-profits, shelter homes, orphanages, private as well as government schools, etc. While reaching out to a potential point of contact, our primary concern is the need and the urgency of these sessions for the kids in their vicinity.
We have a dedicated set of volunteers working on the outreach for the S.A.C.R.E.D Project which requires us to be familiar with all the subtle details that might help us facilitate a session in an even more effective manner with the stakeholders.
The Project was launched in August 2022 in Delhi and NCR. Since then, we have had 30+ sessions impacting 3000+ kids and parents. We have had sessions in multiple locations in Delhi NCR including Ghaziabad, Noida & Greater Noida, Gurgaon, etc.
Apart from this, we also have ‘Project Partners’ on board with us. Our Project Partners conduct the Project in their respective cities. We have Partners from Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Karnataka, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and even outside of India, such as in the United States of America!
We highly stress the importance of measuring the degree of change in the learnings that we bring about through our sessions. For that, we have built Post-session Surveys for all the stakeholders involved. We understand the tender age group of the kids that we target therefore, our surveys are completely picture-based that require minimum writing. We make use of ‘ticks’ and ‘crosses’ to have children mark appropriate answers, keeping in mind some of them might not be able to write or read.
Facilitation with kids
It is rightly said that “Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children, play is serious learning. Play is the work of childhood.”
We train volunteers to reiterate the topics again and again with the kids given the limited attention span of this age group in general and make sure that facilitation with kids is done with utmost patience, slowed down, and simple expression of language, making use of words they are familiar with and understand with no complexities. Giving reasonable and practical examples is a crucial part of delivering a module to kids. These instances are set in their daily lives: citing school, teachers, friends, parents, etc. as key examples within all topics. We introduce activities and play to solidify their understanding of all topics and lay due stress upon participation and recognition in terms of rounds of applause, wherever necessary. It is out of the question that there will be no giggles when we facilitate these sessions with kids. But what is imperative is how one makes use of these instances to teach them something important.
Individual attention and encouraging them to ask questions is also an essential tangent of our sessions. We make sure that the activities that we do are followed by all kids, across all backgrounds. Our focus is primarily and more essentially, on the quality of the content we deliver, rather than the quantity. What is needed while facilitating with kids is an energetic tone, lively appearance, and a positive and welcoming body language, and we try to do exactly that!
The colouring books are one of the most heartwarming parts of the session. Developed from scratch by Pratisandhi Foundation, these books completely reiterate all that we talk about in the sessions. These were developed with the idea of engaging children in recreation and presenting them with an important learning outcome. After all, who doesn’t like stories and colours?
The books use minimal language to describe what is happening in a particular scenario. They include characters that look familiar, and relevant to the Indian context: With a mom/caregiver shown wearing a saree, the complexion of the children as brown, also including the idea of friendliness and trust with authorities like police persons, etc. These books display the idea of knowing and realising that their body is their sole right. It makes them understand the importance of saying NO, of confiding in their trusted network, and of building self-confidence and dignity.
At the end of every session, when we distribute these to the kids, the sheer happiness on their faces is a sight one would never want to miss!
If you’d like to be a part of the SACRED project, please consider donating to us or becoming our project partner.