Abused, abandoned, thrown out in streets, each young girl living in various shelter homes across Kerala would have dreamt of a better life and a respectable job at some points in life but may have rather thanked life for a roof over their head. But thanks to a new scheme by the Social Welfare Department of the Government of Kerala, their dreams may soon come true. The department is set to open the first Tejomaya home, a facility to train the brightest of the lot in the rescue homes in cracking civil service examinations, in June 2019 in Kochi.
A triparty initiative in association with the District Panchayat and a partner NGO, the home will house a maximum of 45 children who have completed class X. The residents will also be co-managing the home. The first home which is about to be set up in the District Panchayat's land in Edakkattuvayal in Ernakulam will be exclusively for girls.
"We have around 1,200 children living in rescue homes across the state. But unfortunately, there is no segregation here on the basis of skills. Some of the students are self-motivated and bright academically, while the others aren't. By letting the bright kids mix with others, we're playing a role in demotivating them. So we thought of opening these homes to train the former group exclusively," says Biju Prabhakar IAS, Special Secretary-in-charge of the Department of Social Justice and Women & Child Development of the Government of Kerala. These children will be selected purely on the basis of their academic performance.
The homes will also have skill development and production centers and the residents will also be trained in agriculture and horticulture. "We're hoping to make this a model for other homes too," Prabhakar says. "We're associating here with the Kerala Academy for Skills Excellence (KASE) to train these children and make them employable and independent at the earliest," he adds. Earlier, a few students from a shelter home were voluntarily trained by the Taj group and Prabhakar hopes more companies to take up similar initiatives. We could also hope to see more bureaucrats from these homes in the near future.
Once the pilot project is successful, the department is also looking at creating more such homes for boys and girls.