St. Andrews Child Development Center has raised several leaders, pastors and government workers across the nation. The center is located at Srivalliputhur, Virudhunagar District, on the southern tip of India, and is sowing the seeds of the urgent need for social welfare in the young minds of the area. The man behind the success is Nicholas, the senior-most coordinator of the center.
“Through this center, we not only influence individuals, but also inspire them to influence communities. One such innovative step taken by this project is Child Parliament.”
Parliament is the supreme legislative body of India. The cardinal functions of the legislature include overseeing of administration, passing of budget, ventilation of public grievances, and discussing various subjects like development plans, international relations and national policies.
In a similar fashion, in order to create a growing awareness among children about the Indian political system, a Child Parliament was started, identifying the potential among children and nominating them as ministers of concerned departments.
The objectives of the Child Parliament include:
- making the children aware of their needs
- protecting the rights of children
- making the children advocates for the neighboring children
- teaching children responsibility and duty
- enabling children to make right decisions
- enhancing their problem-solving skills
- providing quality education to children
- inspiring children to be role models to the community
- inculcating leadership qualities at a young age
- building self-confidence and self-sufficiency
- creating awareness among children of important health issues
- motivating children to dream of a prosperous future
Child Parliament functions just like the Indian Parliamentary System. Child Parliament consists of numerous ministers, each selected in a democratic manner through casting votes.
The finance minister is in control of the Children’s Bank. Children save their money in the Children’s Bank.
The education minister is concerned with the academic performances of the children and how to encourage them to go to school regularly. Apart from this, it is necessary to enhance the communication skills of the students, increase their desire to learn, and encourage children to study well.
This spiritual/ethical minister deals with the importance of the fear of God and the attitude of children. This minister arranges for conventions, sets a good choir, practices new songs, and arranges for children’s retreat and spiritual activities.
The sports minister conducts games for the people in the village, mainly during school vacations so that all children can participate and share love with one another.
The social welfare minister deals with issues related to electricity, water and child protection.
The electrical ministers is in charge of electrical items such as tube lights, lamps, bulbs, etc. He conducts training sessions on how to save electricity. Global warming projects are also conducted by him.
The public works minister is in charge of maintaining cleanliness and hygiene.
The arts and culture minister conducts talents show for children. He must be skilled enough to acknowledge their talents. He also conducts cultural programs for the children.
The health minister ensures cleanliness in the village and can report problems to concerned authorities. He must be aware of communal diseases and take needed steps to prevent them.
The minister of food and human rights focuses on helping villagers understand the importance of storing food properly and avoiding any waste.
Through Child Parliament, children have become aware of their rights. They become responsible citizens of the country. A network of children has been established, and they are exploring their talents and innovative ideas in a host of creative activities. Confidence and self-reliance is developed among the children.
The Child Parliament has helped achieve many things:
- Child Bank was started in 12 child development centers in the area, and children are saving the little money they get from their parents.
- Trees were planted in villages in the area. Almost 40 children planted trees for a better environment, and an awareness program was organized in nearby villages about global warming.
- A rally was organized to encourage people follow traffic rules.
- An awareness program concerning the ill effects of drug abuse and smoking was conducted.
These children, who are the ministers of the Child Parliament, went to nearby villages and found out the issues prevalent among children. They approached the local leaders and spoke about the Child Parliament.
Not only that, they went a step ahead and demonstrated Child Parliament. Through their demonstration, many children who were school dropouts decided to rejoin the school.
Many children volunteered to start Child Parliament in their own communities. Thus, eight community Child Parliaments have been started in different villages in Madurai with the help of the local political leaders.
In statewide election for Child Parliament, the children of St. Andrews were selected at both district level and state levels. Among 200 children who participated in this election, it is a matter of pride that four of the Compassion children were selected.
Nicholas proudly says,
“We are actively involved in transforming villages through Compassion. We instill social values in the little minds from their childhood. This enables them to become active, influential leaders of the society. The children raised through this project are now significant leaders in various fields such as industrial, political and social areas. I feel a deep sense of achievement on seeing my children achieving great heights in the society.”