VELLORE:While the country is set to celebrate Children’s Day on Saturday, the inmates of Hope House, a home for orphaned girls studying in schools, launched ‘Project YUVA’ to promote gender awareness among adolescents using Facebook as a digital platform to promote this concept.
YUVA is an acronym for ‘Youngsters Understanding and Verbalising Adolescence.’
Hope House director Ruby Nakka said the objective of the programme was to make adolescents aware of reproductive health, reporting child sexual abuse, abstinence/ promiscuity, contraception and taking steps to prosecute perpetuators.
Citing various media reports, he said 53 per cent of the children in the country face one or more forms of sexual abuse, 50 per cent of which was by persons known to them while only 21 per cent of children reported abuse.
One of the inmates, Priya said, “I started learning about abuse from a visiting American medical student of Tufts University and began sharing with all the girls of my school only to find more horror stories from them. Annoyed by the ever-increasing media reports on children being subjected to various forms of abuse, she along with her colleagues started a campaign to create awareness on children-to-children basis on various issues such as self-protection, prevention of crimes, sex and reproduction education, good food and good habits.”
Then, the girls made a power-point presentation on issues confronting children and began sharing it with their schoolmates and others in the neighbourhood.
Encouraged by the good response, these little ones have now given shape to their efforts in the form of Project Yuva to commemorate Children’s Day this year.
“The experiment by our children showed that many children are eager to learn about various issues faced by them because most of them consider themselves to be victims of some sort of abuse and harassment,” Ruby said.
It was at this juncture Hope House realised that peer education was the best mode of creating awareness among the children and their parents. The children launched a Facebook page recently through which they want to create a platform for individuals, parents, institutions and business houses to extend support and carry forward the project.
“If we are able to reach out to more youngsters who could identify themselves as YUVA ambassador, we will be helping more children to protect themselves while preventing crimes against them,” Ruby said.
He appealed to the institutions, business houses to make use of the corporate social responsibility (CSR) to join the YUVA movement.