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A peek behind Namma Angadi: Namma Bhoomi and its children – The Manipal Journal
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A peek behind Namma Angadi: Namma Bhoomi and its children

When representatives of working childrens’ organisations from 36 countries across the world, including those from Latin America and Africa gathered at ‘Namma Bhoomi’ in Kundapura to sign a declaration stating principles to solve issues surrounding child labor, it placed the town in the global map for the first time.

‘Namma Bhoomi’  served host to what was the first ever international meeting of working children. It now houses over 100 children, who are imparted with vocational and literary education. The name ‘Namma Bhoomi’  literally translates to ‘Our Earth’ and is a regional resource center founded in 1993 in Kundapur. It is a unit of The Concerned for Working Children (CWC), founded by activists Nandana Reddy and Damodar Acharya in 1985. The CWC have been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2012, 2013 and 2014.

The organization came into force after Nandana Reddy, a trade unionist then, identified child labor in an industrial estate in Bengaluru during a union meeting.  “After a discussion with the children, it was revealed that the kids mostly hailed from artisan families and were made to work illegally with denial of rest hours, health and recreational facilities”, stated Shivanand Shetty, Associate Director, Namma Bhoomi, Kundapur.

The community aims to free children from the clutches of child labour and equip them with skill based training to help them gain employment. “Because artisan goods are not given much value today and there is no proper market to sell their goods, their children do not want to continue that occupation. This way the kids are forced to work and as a result, they migrate to cities where they are absorbed by hotel sectors and other places that exploit them. The children we met at such places wanted skill based training that would increase the employment opportunities in the village and that’s how Namma Bhoomi was started”, added Shivanand. Kundapur was chosen to be the place of establishment as a large number of migrant child workers were identified from this region.

Children at Namma Bhoomi are exposed to over 40 skills, including both modern and traditional skills || Photograph Courtesy: Dhruv Khanna

 

The children under 14 years of age are exposed to over 40 skills that include sophisticated ones like appropriate construction technology, wood technology and traditional ones like basket weaving, leather craft, bamboo craft and many more. Modern courses like beautician and computer studies are also a part of the curriculum. Following the principle of ‘Education for Democracy’ students are given the choice to either specialize in skills of their choice or stick to formal education in 10th grade.

The school ‘Namma Nalanda Vidyapeeth’ follows the montessori approach of education and has a council or ‘panchayat’ set up and run by the students themselves who set the norms and regulations of the school. After the completion of the course, some stay back to apply those skills into making craft and handloom products while the regional artisans also send in their products to be sold at ‘Namma Angadi’ (meaning ‘Our Shop’). Exhibitions to promote the art of handloom and handicraft have been hosted in cities like Bangalore and Mangalore while the regular outlets are setup in Bangalore and Kundapur.

The income from these events is handed over directly to the rural artisans while the rest is directed towards upgradation of the courses. To cope with the changing scenario, students are being taught to produce handloom like shirts & kurtas and carpentry along with traditional ones like sarees and pottery.

‘Namma Angadi’ also conducts annual exhibitions at various places to promote rural artisans by selling and showcasing their products.

Featured Photograph Courtesy: Dhruv Khanna

In the interest of transparency, The Manipal Journal is in association with Namma Angadi 2017. The 14th edition of the event is set to take place at the School of Communication premises in Manipal from March 3-5.

Stay tuned as we bring you the latest from the event.

Karthik Rajagopal

karthikraja96@ymail.com

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