World Children’s Day at the Edith Wilkins Street Children Foundation in Darjeeling
World Children’s Day commemorated at the Edith Wilkins Street Children Foundation in Darjeeling with Gusto
Darjeeling, November 21, 2020: The ongoing Covid pandemic could not rob the true spirit of the World Children’s day commemorations at the Edith Wilkins Street Children Foundation in Darjeeling, India, on Friday, the 20th November. ( The Edith Wilkins Street Children Foundation is a Cork based charity).
Although all the outdoor activities including the usual visit to the zoo were suspended; all the indoor activities like sit and draw, essay writing competitions, indoor games formed an integral part of the commemorations. The “Bara Khana” (feast) was also there.
“We would usually take our children out to the park or take them on a visit to the zoo to mark the day. However due to Covid-19, we have had to keep the children safe and isolated under lockdown so instead all our activities were indoor this year” said Anuja Ghalay, Indian Director of the Foundation.
This is a day for children, by children, all over the world to help save children’s lives, fight for their rights and help them fulfil their potential.
World Children’s Day (WCD) is a global day of action for children, by children, marking the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) on November 20 in 1989.
In India, a week of activities and events were rolled out from National Children’s Day on 14 November leading up to WCD.
“COVID-19 is a child rights crisis. In the backdrop of the global pandemic, UNICEF brings spotlight on the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the rights of children. The costs of the pandemic for children are immediate and, if unaddressed, may persist throughout their lives” stated a UNICEF release.
This year’s activities were held in the virtual and the digital spaces. “From the essays written by the children; their painting and from their conversations with us, it was evident that they were missing their schools and friends in the physical form. Digital classes are being held along with exams as schools are all closed in India” added Anuja.
Another problem that is being faced is the delay in rehabilitation with their families. “Many who are under our care at present but have families and can be repatriated, they want to be reunited with their families, and need to be after the dreadful traumas some have suffered but there’s a delay is in the legal procedures owing to the pandemic”.
Edith Wilkins Street Children Foundation, a not for profit organisation, provides care and protective support to street children, victims of physical abuse/rape and sex trafficking, child labourers and other at risk minors. There are more than 200 children under the foundation’s care.
“For the children who have no families or cannot be repatriated we provide educational support or skill trainings up to the age of 18 and help with placement or 3rd level education thereafter. Our children are doing great in studies and training courses.
For many of the kids who are unable to express their feelings through words or writings, the sit and draw was an excellent tool to ventilate the same. “They happily drew houses, men, women depicting their homes and family, or what they perceive to be the norm” Anuja said. All the children received little gifts, much to their delight.
“We had a wonderful time painting pictures and playing games” stated Maya*, a child in the foundation rescued from a life of abuse (*name changed.)
INDIA/UNICEF had also launched the a Go Blue campaign whereby all important landmarks throughout the length and breadth of the country were lit up with blue light on November 20, standing in solidarity for child rights and the impact of COVID-19 and climate change on their lives. This included the Rashtrapati Bhavan (the office and residence of the President of India;) the Prime Minister’s office and the Parliament these were all lit up in blue in Delhi, India’s Capital.
In Kolkatta (Calcutta), Howrah Bridge, the busiest cantilever bridge in the world and third longest cantilever bridge in the world (at the time of construction) was also lit up in blue to mark the day. Every day 100,000 vehicles and around 150000 cross this bridge.
Other landmarks e.g Nehru Children’s Museum, Birla Industrial & Technological Museum and the office of the West Bengal Commission for Protection of Child Rights in Kolkata were also illuminated along with key Government establishments. The illumination in blue will remain on Saturday, too.
“This day holds significance as we reinforce our commitment to children’s rights and reimagine a world where children are heard and can lead. Today, in the midst of the pandemic, we need to collectively work around issues affecting children to ensure a sustainable future for every child,” stated Mohammad Mohiuddin, from his office in Bengal.