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    MetLife and CRY organize the first ever Children’s Festival in J&K

    Theatre festival highlighted the importance of education for children

    Srinagar, 29th July:: Dreams and aspirations of children in the state were showcased through a theatre festival organised by MetLife, CRY- Child Rights and You and its state partners JKASW (Jammu and Kashmir Association of Social Workers) and Koshish. The objective of this festival was to strengthen the voices of children in realising their dream of getting quality education through child participation. It creates an environment in which children gain confidence to get rid of their inhibitions and leads them to share their joys and challenges they face while accessing education. Around 40 children from CRY project areas, supported by MetLife and J&K Bank, in the state of Jammu and Kashmir came together to attend a four day long children festival with Mr. Walter Peter (Ex Member, TIE, National School of Drama) which culminated in sharing their experiences of school, their expectations, triumphs within the theme of education. The event paid tribute to late Dr. A.P.J. Adbul Kalam who was a strong advocate for child education.
    In final culmination of the event today, the children presented their stories and were felicitated by The Honourable State Finance Minister, Dr Drabu, who was the Chief Guest on the occasion. Other dignitaries present were Ms Asia Naqash, Honourable Minister of State for Health and Social Welfare, Jammu & Kashmir; Mr Tarun Chugh, MD & CEO, MetLife; Mr. S.K. Bhat, President- Strategy & Business Development, FSD, J&K Bank and Soha Moitra, Regional Director, North, CRY- Child Rights and You.
    The children presented their stories through the process of ‘children’s collective’ to express their desires:

    Theme 1: Every child to be in school
    The play showcased the need and importance of schooling for children. It promoted the health and well-being of children, including academic and personal growth, critical thinking and analytical skills, and the motivation to stay in school and excel. Schooling is still an unrealised dream for many and the benefits associated with it are still unmet. The first play was a depiction of challenges faced by children and their desire to attend schools, to get educated so that they grow up as responsible individuals.

    Theme 2: Girl child education
    It is very much clear that the girl child is discriminated against from the earliest stage of life, through her childhood and into her adulthood. The play drew the attention of the audience towards this discrimination and highlighted the need of education of girl children. It focused on the dreams and aspirations of girl children to get educated and how society can give flight to their dreams.

    Theme 3: Children’s dream for education
    Participation is a process where children can freely express and also have influence on a decision that brings about a change in their lives. It is a combination of different approaches where their voices are heard to address the issues that affect them. The play focused on the importance of voices of children as they are the future and thus it is extremely important for the society to work together to ensure we save their childhood.

    Speaking on the occasion, Tarun Chugh, MD & CEO, PNB MetLife said, “Education and Protection is the right of every child and our CSR programme is built on this very pillar. While our core focus has been helping underprivileged children bridge the gap between their present status and a better future with education, we have also been focused on other aspects of their growth and development. To see the performance of the children today has been a journey of self-discovery and I am honoured that our contribution has helped towards bringing a significant change in the lives of the children in our projects.”

    Soha Moitra, Regional Director, North, CRY- Child Rights and You, said “An initiative which started as an experiment has now taken a structured shape to get insights into ways in which children think and react. It enables children to participate in decision making through collectives and forums which helps them in building their self-esteem and confidence. This process has enabled children to come out with various issues impacting their own lives, such as child marriage, child labour and other issues like access to education. Our experience shows that when these issues are expressed by a child, it assumes a far stronger space and is then heard by relevant authorities for taking immediate steps.”
    The outcome of this festival will be embedded into our larger campaign of education in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
    MetLife, under its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programme in India, joined hands with Child Rights and You (CRY) in the year 2014 for improving the conditions of children in Jammu & Kashmir. The partnership is currently benefitting over 16000 children from 14 Panchayats of J&K State

    For more information, please contact:

    Manish Pant
    CRY- Child Rights and You

    Komal Jain


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