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Homecoming hug from MAC

Ranchi, June 11: The 119 Muslim children who returned to Jharkhand today by train from Kerala will soon get a fresh start with MAC or multiple activity centres proposed by State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (SCPCR) and NGOs Save the Children and Bharatiya Kisan Sangh.

Though the dust hasn’t settled on whether children from poor homes were sent to Kerala orphanages by parents too poor to feed them or trafficked, once the minors reach their homes in Mahagama, Pathargama and Godda blocks in Godda district, they can enrol in MACs to gradually forget their trauma.

Though the state will put the boys and girls in state-run schools later, the centres will help children “mainstream themselves” or confidently face formal education.

At MAC, the focus will be on remedial education and joyful learning with teaching-learning materials and interactive sessions. These centres will also provide children with vocational training.

Senior member of SCPCR Sanjay Kumar Mishra, part of the high-level rescue team from Jharkhand which went to Palakkad in Kerala, and separated Jharkhand children from the ones from Bihar and Bengal among the hundreds stranded there, added another dimension to the rehab process.

“We feel parents of these minors, who forced to them to leave the state, also need immediate counselling so that such incidents (of sending children away) can be avoided. Parents also need to know about RTE Act 2009,” Mishra said.

According to Mishra, in each centre, around 40 children will be enrolled and their parents counselled about the importance of child education and safety.

“We have already consulted Godda deputy commissioner Rajesh Kumar Sharma on MACs. We will ensure they open within a fortnight,” he added.

SCPCR member Mishra said the upcoming MACs would instil confidence among parents and children alike.

“Parents, made desperate due to poverty, send their wards away. Poverty and the mindset bred by poverty need to be changed from within, and this is only possible through a mix of counselling, livelihood measures and education,” he said.

Mahadev Hansda, state programme manager, Save The Children, said a MAC centre in Khunti district runs for dropouts and rescued victims of child trafficking.

“Children feel happy and safe at MAC. We are sure similar MACs in Godda will help these children too,” he said. Each centre, manned by a teacher and supporter by a supervisor and a trainer, will have teaching-learning materials, blackboards and suggestion boxes.

Godda district, under Santhal Pargana division, has eight blocks Boarijore, Godda, Mahagama, Meharama, Pathargama, Poraiyahat, Sunderpahari and Thakurgangti. Some 2,304 villages fall under its 172 panchayats, most faring miserably on basic development parameters.