Our hope for children
Dear extended Family of ours - Save the Children, India,
First and foremost a big Thank You for just being with us; letting us know you care and continuing your support – in these most difficult and uncertain times. If this is the new normal – where people like you stretch yourself for children in need – we are fortunate!
Writing this exactly one year from the date the ‘New Normal’ set in on 21 March 2020. Little did we anticipate what all would be in store for us in the times ahead. The first few days were filled with anxiety; fear of the unknown; uncertainty; and of trying to cope with the circumstances and ensure continuity of support for the most vulnerable – the children.
The old adage ‘Circumstances make the (hu)man’ came true, as the team you all trusted for a decade for taking care of children came good. The new normal for our team was more of newer and innovative ways in which the team ensured that the children had continuity in their lives. We were provided with an opportunity to work on building resilience in children and enable the communities for making appropriate choices and decisions with knowledge and information.
Starting to lead a part of a 100 years old movement for children during a pandemic was challenging yet it has been one of the most insightful times. Working remotely, the inability to connect with teams beyond digital means, limited to essential travel, the distinctiveness of the organisation, and its work and legal changes in the sector were some unique experiences I found myself navigating.
Leaders need to be a mix of humility, hunger, and emotional intelligence. Easier said than done, I found the right balance in the history of the rich work on the ground, the agility in responding to children’s needs, the wealth of knowledge, skill, experience, and commitment Save the Children has always deployed to tide over the complexity of delivering children’s rights today.
Traveling as much as possible to gain experience of our work from East to West, from West Bengal to Rajasthan – I learned about our capability to continue responding to the needs of the most deprived and cut-off children. Our teams were not only able to accommodate the shift in priorities but managed the setbacks to children’s education (schools closed), protection (child marriage, child labour among many others), malnutrition and health.
And I could see that Save the Children in India, with its well-trained teams and work done previously to help communities build resilience, is well worthy of the impressive reputation it has garnered with the passionate work of every staff member. I do hope that all our staff, donors, and supporters get a chance to see our work in action too – and to meet with the children whose lives we are working to change in a better way. The longest-ever school closure induced by the pandemic has led to innovations like community libraries, mobile learning centers for continuity of education, along with a revival of the habit of reading.
Our reports “A Generation at Stake – Protecting India’s children from COVID-19’s impact” and “Protect A Generation: Climate Security for India’s Children" (in partnership with PwC India), showed that when we work for helping children during the Pandemic, there are many other things that we need to keep our eyes on too.
My recent visit to West Bengal on the other side of the country was stirring to say the least. I experienced magic happening – transformational stories – of Youth taking charge of their own lives and so also of the communities around them.
In 2021, I am sure my journey will now also extend from North to South – and my next pit-stop should be Telangana. It’s a time when we have to surge ahead with the Breakthroughs for children, more efficiently and be more engaged in the program implementation on the ground – which is also a necessity of the changed FCRA laws to which we are adapting in real-time.
While I am proud of all that we are doing, I am – and I know all of you are too – cognizant of the fact that we need to do much more, and more quickly, to bring about the lasting change we envision. My vision for Save the Children is “More from Less for More” and, going by what I have seen so far, I am confident that our teams will be geared up to serve many more children in 2021.
I close with a mix of satisfaction and anxiety – satisfaction that with your help we could reach out to so many more children in distress during this period; and anxiety about all those we could not – so much more to do still to live up to our motto of ‘Every Last Child’! Inviting you all to bring in more such enlightened people to be a part of the extended family of Save the Children, India! We are who we are and do what we do because all of you out there made a choice to trust us and support us. Thank You