Chennai

Ensuring a sweet future for children in conflict with the law

One of the children at the home, baking   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Seventeen-year-old Satish (name changed) was lodged at the Kellys Observation Home for Boys in 2019. Today, he and four others, have learnt baking with the help of an NGO and the TN Department of Social Defence.

Now, they are training other children of the home and making them successful bakers. They are also planning to brand their products as ‘Bake and Change’.

The NGO, Our Shoulders Foundation, led by its founder, Manicka Bharathi, started teaching baking at the Kellys Observation Home for Boys, in 2018. Initially, one child joined the course and soon others became interested and enrolled. To date, Mr. Manicka Bharathi along with chef Robin, have taught baking to 90 children who are in conflict with the law.

“I was in bad company and poverty made me commit lots of mistakes in life. My father is an autorickshaw driver and my mother is mentally ill. But I realised my folly when I learnt that there were a lot of opportunities if I learnt some skill. Hence I started learning baking," explained Satish, who is now trying to prevent children in his locality from falling into bad habits.

Similar is the story of Joy (name changed) who came into the home in 2016. “Earlier, neighbours used to look at me with disrespect. Now, after I learnt baking and started teaching others, I walk in my locality with my head held high. My mother, a flower vendor, was excited when I gave her a biscuit made by me,” he said.

Mr. Manicka Bharathi said that the aim was to ensure that the children live a life of dignity and are not stigmatised. “I want the five trained by me to be an example to others. I am helping them start their own brand and run it successfully. I also teach them management and soft skills,” he explained.

He said that the stigma against such children is slowly going away. “I wish to guide them and make them successful. Seeing these five, others will also be motivated,” he added.


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Printable version | Jul 27, 2021 5:26:19 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/ensuring-a-sweet-future-for-children-in-conflict-with-the-law/article34948581.ece

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