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jeevajyothichennai@gmail.com

History

Jeeva Jyothi was founded in 1994 by four enthusiastic social activists who came together to bring ethical changes in the lives of the children in difficult circumstances especially children in the streets and working children.

Initially, work started in a village called Kosappur where youth were motivated to become volunteers of JJ and were sensitized about child labour. JJ’s activities in Pammadu Kulam focused on the children of Rag picking community. The programme covered the activities like supplementary education classes, Non-formal education classes, medical assistance, school enrollment, awareness programmes, Creative camps, Street theatre programmes, Home placement, vocational training, job placement, folk arts training and sports. More than 30,000 street and working children were covered in North Chennai through JJ’s intervention. JJ has initiated a Children assistance booth at Perambur Railway station, through which many run away children were reached. These children were reintegrated with their families and the children who were not willing to go to their families were admitted in children homes.

Counselling were given to women who were referred by Railway Police and efforts were made to reunite them to the families and some were referred to NGOs working for women. While working for children, JJ came across many orphan children who were in need of proper care and support. Hence it started a Children’s home in Perambur and accommodated around 25 such children who were also enrolled in formal schools. Later the shelter home was moved to Budur in Sothupaakam Road near Red hills which could accommodate more children and facilities.

The intervention in Rice Mills and Brick-kilns around Red hills in Thiruvallur District started with migrant Bonded Labourers since JJ came across many children who worked as child labourers along with their families. The needs of the migrant bonded labourers were addressed through the intervention which included activities such as Bridge School for the Child Labourers, Children Manimandram for the mainstreamed children, Child Rights Monitoring Committee for bringing together all stakeholders together for the promotion of Child Rights, Day Care Centre for the Children of migrant labourers. Rights of the children cannot be ensured unless the parents are freed from the bonded labour situation. Hence numerous legal interventions were made with the support of District administration and State Human Rights Commission.

In order to protect and preserve the environment, JJ was involved in environment camps and planning trees in all its working areas. With this focus in 1999, it established a handmade paper Training cum Production unit at Kosappur, which was recognized by the Khadi Village Industries Commission (KVIC). The main aim of the unit is to provide training and job opportunity for the women and youth of the local community. Community Action for Health programme under the National Rural Health mission was implemented by JJ as a pilot project in Gummidipoondi and Minjur from 2008 to 2012. In 2012, JJ was appointed as the Support Organisation for Childline 1098 in Thiruvallur District. JJ also started working for the persons with disabilities through Community Based Rehabilitation project.

The highlight of all programmes of JJ is the Awareness activities which created the appropriate sensitization for the community to improve their access to government schemes. JJ had been the Convener and coordinating agency for the CHENNAI NGO forum, TN NGO Forum for street and working children and other networks.

While working with the street children in South Chennai in 1991, he noticed the presence of street and working children in his own neighbourhood in northern Chennai. This motivated him to start "Jeeva Jyothi", an organization that would be dedicated to improving the lives of these children.

"Reflecting back on my own childhood, I remember the times when I worked as a child labourer in different factories in Chennai, India. I had experienced the social and economic difficulties that come with unemployment and underemployment. I do not wish to see the children of today suffer the same plight. As a young worker, I was involved in the International Young Christian Workers movement (IYCW) for many years from the local level to the international level. I happened to work in Hong Kong for many years in the Asia-Pacific Coordination of IYCW and saw the prevalence of child labour in other Asian countries. Though I did not have much of formal education, it was from a life that I learnt and I want to give back my life to the betterment of the society that taught me lessons in life” are the words of the Founder.