CRY... the initials stand for Child Relief and You. In spirit, it stands for hope, for possibilities, for the conviction that collective action by individuals and organisations can restore to our nation's underprivileged children the rights that are owed to them.
On 28thJanuary, 1979, 25 years ago, a young man, Rippan Kapur, got together with 6 friends, raised 50 rupees and started the organisation called CRY - Child Relief and You. At that time, CRY was just an idea and a dream. A dream of doing something to change the lives of the millions of underprivileged children in India.
Their office was a dining table, their inspiration the firm belief that every Indian child was entitled to the basic rights of survival, development, protection and participation.
The founders of CRY chose not to start a grassroots-level implementing organisation working directly with and for underprivileged children. They opted instead to make CRY a link between the concerned individuals and organisations that could provide resources and the thousands of dedicated fieldworkers struggling to function for lack of them. They saw their role as enablers and in doing so created an institution that is a unique model of a community movement that takes responsibility for its weakest and most vulnerable members and motivates and catalyses change on their behalf.
Enable people to take responsibility for the situation of the deprived Indian child and so motivate them to confront the situation through collective action thereby giving the child and themselves an opportunity to realize their full potentials.
In the 25 years of our existence, CRY :
- has sold greeting cards worth over Rs.600 million
- disbursed over Rs.1 billion to redress the situation of millions of deprived Indian children
- nurtured more than 300 grassroots organisations across India
- been a catalyst for change in the lives of well over 1 million underprivileged Indian children
Today', the CRY movement comprises over 1 lakh individuals and organisations. In "2003" alone, CRY was able to channelise their funds to support 171 grassroots initiatives, permanently changing the lives of 92,549 Indian children.
Marketing tie-ins, payroll giving schemes, events, school and college workshops, media campaigns, signature drives, website, online banners, emailers, street theatre . we leave no channel unutilized.
With the NGOs we support, we define our role as that of a partner - each infusion of funds is accompanied by the non-financial inputs necessary to ensure their optimum utilisation. These non-financial inputs are in the areas of organisation building, programme development, training, and perspective building in child rights and accountability ... even funding the development of locally relevant educational tools and training methods if necessary.
Additionally, each initiative comprises direct action with children, community mobilisation and policy influencing components to maximise impact and ensure long-term viability by encouraging community ownership of the initiative.
At the other end of the spectrum, the Rippan Kapur CRY Fellowship Programme seeks to enable motivated individuals starting a career in grassroots development work to make a beginning.
What does the future hold for CRY?
Too many millions of India's children are still denied the simple joys of childhood, love, protection and so often life itself:
- One out of two children between the ages of six and fourteen has no access to primary education.
- Over 3,000,000 live on the streets of our towns and cities.
- Around 111,000,000 are forced by circumstance to do some form of work, often in hazardous or exploitative conditions. 15,000,000 of those are bonded labourers.
- The fate of the girl child is even more disturbing. One out of every three girl children does not live to see her 15th birthday. A third of those deaths takes place at birth. Every sixth girl child's death is due to gender discrimination.
Though we have made some progress over the past two and a half decades in addressing the issues relating to children, it is clear that we have to multiply our efforts manifold if we are to make a significant dent in the daunting statistics.
In the future, we will be placing far greater emphasis on mobilising and empowering communities, both underprivileged and privileged.
For the projects we support, this translates to an approach that aims at long-term sustainability driven by the local community rather than dependence on external support. It also strives to build networks and alliances of grassroots organisations to strengthen the communities' own ability to lobby for the development and implementation of policies most relevant to their priorities.
For people, like you, who support our efforts, this means we will ramp up on our mission of building a people's movement for child rights. We will do this by expanding our nascent volunteer mobilisation programme so as to channelise not just financial resources but also skills, time, commitment and citizen's action on behalf of children.