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INH YaR Day Re-echoes - `Children`s Right to Be Heard` (Art. 12 UNCRC)

Hyderabad, Dec. 14. Hyderabad, Dec. 14. Children from INH YaR homes gathered together at Ekalavya Children`s Home, Rajahmundry on 6th & 7th December 2014, to deepen their understanding of CRC -particularly their Right to Be Heard - through Interactive, Joyous exchange of their experiences and celebration of their knowledge, skills and attitude. It was a commemoration of three important events: the occasion of the 25th year of the promulgation of the United Nations Child Rights Convention (UNCRC), Bicentenary of the Birth of Don Bosco and the conclusion of the child rights week based on the theme of the year `I have a Right to be heard`.

To grace this occasion and to inaugurate the event we had Child representatives from seven YaR centres of the INH Province who took part in the event. Along them we had Rev. Fr Thomas Koshy SDB National YaR Coordinator, Mr. Girish Pingle from Rastra Seva Dal, Pune, Fr Sudhakar Bellamkonda Province YaR coordinator and Fr Thomas Pallithanam, Director PARA, Ravulapalem. In his short message Fr Koshy called on the 140 bubbling children and youngsters aging from 7 years to 17years to understand their (children) Rights and in a right perspective its meaning and implications. Fr Sudhakar, Province YaR coordinator invoked the God`s blessing and reminded the children that they are representatives of the respective children homes of INH Province and they need to carry back the learnings of the event to others who could not take part in the programme. Informally all the child representatives also greeted every one present for the programme. This year`s YaR Day was different from all the other years` YaR day celebration which usually consisted of various competitions. This year`s YaR day wanted the children to understand that there is more to life than just competition and that much more can be achieved through a spirit of cooperation.

To set platform for two day programme and to get know the participants from different centres Fr Thomas Pallithanam in a simple play method organized a game which helped them to learn benefits of cooperation which leads to Joy and Efficiency. It helped the children to go beyond the mere spoken words and to understand each other in a deeper manner. In the following session on the first day resource persons Mr Dhananjay and Mr. Kandham from Rastra Seva Dal, Pune showed through a game of colour how although they are different their coming together gives rise to a variety of new things. Through aerobics they helped them to express themselves freely.

The afternoon session focused on the four major rights of the children namely, Right to Life, Right To Protection, Right To Development and Right To Participate. After the game ``Play Your Rights Card`` chiildren were divided into groups and given charts, colour pencils and sketches to  picturize rights as they understood them. Children were very creative in their thinking and sharing. The first day was concluded with a camp fire.

Second day began with Yoga - Calisthenics and followed by the recalling the previous day`s events and activities. In the following session Fr Koshy Thomas and Mr Santosh elaborated for them CRC Art 12, the Right to Be Heard. They encouraged them to exercise self-expression which is an integral part of their Right to be Heard. Before Lunch resource persons from Rastra Seva Dal took the sessions on the personality Development and Calisthenics.

In the post lunch session evolved as ``Paint Your Rights Wall``. The compound wall  of Ekalavya Children`s Home was beautifully, artfully and though provokingly painted by children - each one painting their understanding of rights on the wall.  Creativity of children was visible and thought provoking.

On the second day we also had the meeting of all the YaR Centre Director along with Fr Thomas Santiagu, Director of BSK, Development office of the INH province. We had Fr Thomas Koshy as special guest to guide us and to help us in our discussions. He also shared with us the YaR National office plans. One of the major decisions we took was the decision to hold the YaR Day as a Two day event, on first Saturday December and the Sunday that follows it. Fr Thomas Santiago agreed to prepare a project for the small centers and to present the same to donor agencies. We also unanimously accepted to train our senior students who are with us for long time as Peer Leaders. Fr Sudhakar also presented Updates on the CHILD MISS and targets that we had set for ourselves in the recently concluded training for the respective Nodes. All of us also shared the various activities we have organized during the child rights week (14-20 November, 2014).

At 4 O` Clock in the afternoon all the children gathered for the valedictory function. Every centre performed well choreographed dances. We were honored with the presence of Asst. Commissioner RPF Mr. Sambasivarao and Mr. Sharatkumar CI RPF. Mr Sharatkumar in his message recalled his relationship with Fr Koshy and Navajeevan homes at Vijayawada and called upon the students to make use the opportunities provided at Don Bosco homes and congratulated organizers for organizing such meaningful programme for the children. We also took this occasion to felicitate Fr Thomas Koshy who had served as Province YaR Coordinator. The Child representatives honoured him with a shawl and garland. Fr Sudhakar thanked Fr Pallithanam Thomas and his collaborators for planning and executing programme with precision. He also thanked all the Directors of Navajeevan home for all the effort they made to make the programme a grand success. A memorable moment was exchanging of the mementos of the respective Navajeevan homes. Children then joyfully dispersed for their respective destinations wishing each other adieu till they would meet again at Vizag in 2015.