Mountain Children's Foundation

Focus: Education, Children and Youth

WITH the firm belief that their energy, idealism and deep sense of fairness make children the best agents of change, MCF empower youngsters to transform the rural mountain communities to which they belong.

The remote locations of such populations make them even more vulnerable to injustices such as a lack of access to basic resources, few employment opportunities, apathetic schoolteachers and natural disasters – which often goes unnoticed by the rest of the country.

To bridge this gap, Mountain Children’s Foundation believe in a participatory, child-centered approach to transformation, which allows the youth to take control of the future of their communities.

As President Aditi Kaur says: "Working with children delivers results because people listen to and are motivated by their children in a way that cannot be touched by any outsider. Children are both a catalyst for change and a force that brings people together."

MCF’s modus operandi is creating bal sangathans (children's groups) in each village, where the youth are given an open space for dialogue and discussion, a space to voice their needs and concerns. Through games, activities and discussion, MCF facilitators inform the young people about their rights and responsibilities as citizens of the community.

Manisha Bunal is a typical example of MCF’s impact. The 17-year-old has been part of the Vidhya Bal Panchayat, in Naya Basti, Dharchula for the past two years. Here is what she achieved: “Sarita didi [facilitator] told us that having toilet at home is very important and defecating in open is not a good thing because flies sit on it and then those flies sit on our food which make us ill. I told my parents to make a toilet in our house so we do not have to go to the toilet in the open. Papa thought about it and he made a toilet – and we are very happy.”

This is just one toilet in one home. There are now 16 bal sangathans in different villages, with over 500 active members who have persuaded their communities to build 210 toilets and over 1,000 dustbins and garbage receptacles.

US-based education expert Sonia Mehta from Minnesota had this to say after visiting one of the villages: “I take these lessons with me to other classrooms in other places in the world. Most of all the memory that sustains is of what childhood could mean, when it is listened to, respected and empowered.”

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CURRENT PROJECTS
Sanitation Programme

IN an effort to raise the levels of sanitation and hygiene among rural communities, MCF bring together children, parents and community leaders to collectively identify problems that they want to address such as lack of toilets in the village, lack of water and toilets in the local school and shortcomings in domestic and personal hygiene. This method has proved fruitful - in five villages, for example, children have dug out seven garbage pits and made 29 cardboard dustbins in their schools!

Child Participation and Education

WITH children at the heart of MCF’s vision for the future of remote mountain communities, they strive to improve the quality of education in locals schools by enabling children to become active change agents. The programme works with aganwadi workers, school management committees and community-based organisations to raise the standards of early childhood education, while also facilitating the creation of bal sangathans which give children a voice - and a space - to initiate change.

PABAM Magazine

CONNECTING young people from far flung villages, this monthly children’s magazine in Hindi is distributed to every bal sangathan. A publication that MCF have produced since 2003, PABAM provides a forum for children to share their stories and concerns and documents their activities, photographs, letters and artwork. Children write in to share community learning experiences and this helps incubate new ideas and builds a strong peer network. Over 150 issues of PABAM is a record MCF's progress!

About Mountain Children's Foundation
Testimonials

MCF is an organization of great integrity and they work hard to empower children in India to improve their communities.

Brent Zupp, volunteer, Oregon, USA

I was so impressed meeting with the children and hearing how committed they were to impact their lives and the communities they live in.

Patrick Bocco, Fundraising Manager, CRY America Inc

The bal sangathans undertake a Healthy Home Survey which has changed the village. After the survey most families in the village use dustbins and toilets and because of this the cleanliness in the village can be seen.

Bijendra Singh, community member, Barkot, Dehradun

Under the aegis of MCF, a network of some 15,000 young people working with organisations across 600 villages are tapping the power of collective action to get teachers to attend school and parents to allow children, in particular girls, to study.

Nitin Jugran Bahuguna, journalist, The Statesman, March 2, 2017

THE TEAM
  • Aditi P. Kaur President
  • Sudhir Bhatt Treasurer
  • Dwarika Prasad Projects
  • Ashok Bisht Projects
  • Himani Chandola Projects
  • Deepika Panwar Projects
  • Ravindra Singh Chauhan Finance
  • Laxmi Devi Projects