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Recognising remarkable women – Jacinta’s story

India Programme / Partner story

Photo provided by HHC

In celebration of International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month, Hope and Homes for Children (HHC) – an organisation devoted to ensuring that every child grows up in a loving family, has dedicated the whole month of March to share stories of remarkable women involved in the childcare reform sector. Its campaign shows that when you empower women, you can help ensure that every child has the love of a family and a safe place called home.

Last week HHC shared Jacinta’s story. Jacinta loves to learn, but when her family could no longer make ends meet, she had to leave school to earn money from cleaning houses. Jacinta lost her parents when she was young, making her grandparents her main caretakers. When her grandfather became too frail to work, the family could not keep her in school.

Working for strangers, at just ten years old, meant that Jacinta was in great danger of being exploited by her employers or trafficked as a domestic slave or a sex-worker. Trafficking is widespread in Jharkhand, India. Where Jacinta lives, many families feel that the only way they can keep their girls safe is to send them to an orphanage. But decades of reliable research shows that orphanages expose children to abuse and neglect, and damage their development.

Isolated from her family and her community, Jacinta would have been denied the love and individual care that all children need to feel safe and happy to thrive.

HHC is working with the Child in Need Institute (CINI), an organisation located in India that works to ensure that children and adolescents achieve their rights to health, nutrition, education, protection and participation by making duty bearers and communities responsive to their wellbeing. Together HHC and CINI is working to end the use of orphanages by establishing child protection systems and support services that keep families together and allow children to grow-up safely within their own communities.

By assigning a skilled social worker to support Jacinta and her relatives, it made sure they had access to all the resources and advice they needed to keep their family together. This meant that Jacinta can stay with the people who love her and continue her education. “One day I would like to be an engineer,” she told HHC, adding, “If I am educated, I can do anything I want, I can be independent.”

HHC envisions a world in which children no longer suffer in institutional care. By supporting children into loving, stable families and working with governments to tackle the root causes of family breakdown, it is working to keep children out of orphanages. Oak supports the work of HHC through our India programme, which works to support equitable opportunities for all, because everyone should have a fair chance at creating a life for themselves. Read more about the programme strategy here.