When you walk into the mobile crèche center here at Hiranandani Gardens, Powai, you know that the resounding ‘Namaste’ you get from almost fifty little kids with heartfelt greetings, is enough to pull your heart strings! It’s then you know deep inside that the kids are being taught etiquette and respect , and are not just there for food and fun!
Meet Joyti Tayde ,the caretaker and in charge who loves her job. Day in and day out she reaches out to tiny kids, teaching, clapping, singing and feeding them. Read on to find out how they came into existence.
Ever seen a little child scream out for his Mother while she is carrying bricks at a construction site. Or have you ever seen sand and dust fill a little babies eyes while she clings onto her mother’s sari, who is working away sieving sand at a construction site. Not any more, well, almost not, it’s been hard labour and diligent perseverance over many years to gather all the kids and centralize them at zonal construction sites for safety and care while their parents work away.
Says Joyti Madam, “Mobile Crèches was founded in 1969 in Delhi originally on the belief that every child has the fundamental right to security, education, health care and protection. Running day care centres on construction sites for the past 33 years, Mobile Crèches has run over four hundred and fifty centres in Mumbai, Delhi and Pune and reached out to over 3,00,000 children. It has developed a comprehensive day care service programme that meets children’s emotional, physical, cognitive and social development needs. It has pioneered the first Early Child Care Education programme for migrant workers children in this country. “
Mobile Crèches was founded by Meera Mahadevan in Delhi first with the belief that every child has the fundamental right to security, education, health care and protection. A housewife at the time, she was passing a construction site when she was struck by the sight of a baby lying unattended and exposed to the harsh heat. The next day, she set up a tent, hired some help and started the first Mobile Crèche. This initiated a social movement whose guiding principle was – Early Childhood Matters.
Adds Joyti, “The biggest gift is the gift of time! It cannot be bought, so reaching out to them and putting a smile on their face is the best gift you can give. In a country where the economic and political situations force millions of workers into extremely vulnerable positions, and leave their children even more helpless, Mobile Crèche is the only organization in India which provides such comprehensive day care centres to bring up the kids in totality and they love it here.”
The construction industry is the single largest employer of migrant laborers, the poorest of the poor, in Indian cities. Approximately 35 million men and women work in this sector and they are entirely unorganized. Moving wherever they can earn an income, most migrant labourers are illiterate and only able to speak their own language. Their lives are characterized by insecurity of wages, dangerous working conditions, and lack of access to any kind of welfare.
The children including infants of these workers – estimated to be around 54 million – are even more vulnerable. Because of their family’s extreme poverty and also since their parents are constantly working – sometimes mothers go back to work a few hours after delivery – they are left to fend for themselves. They suffer from malnutrition, under nourishment, accidents, and innumerable health problems. They are marginalized from formal schooling, day-care centres or any sort of support system. It is estimated the government services barely reach 5% of this population.
At Mobile Creches stand for the two pillars of their existence – Fund Raising and Friend Raising – both of which are closely related. Funds are the basic fuel on which their centers runs and friends help us stay on track. You can get involved, learn new things and have fun – exactly like the Mobile Creche children!
Further informs Joyti, “In 39 years, Mobile Creches have worked with more than 200 builders. We urge builders and contractors to fund the childcare centre on their site and sensitize them towards the issues facing construction workers and their children. The early years of childhood are a period of maximum growth, vulnerability, as well as maximum dependence on adult care. Hence it is vital that we reach out to the family and other members of the community. The attitudes and actions of parents, grandparents, siblings, neighbours, teachers and social groups deeply influence the world of a child.”
Truly selfless and caring, are the day care teachers who need our blessings to keep them going!