Society Matters | Volume 34 No. 1 | Autumn 2024

5 Volume 34 No. 1 | Autumn 2024 Society Matters dignity to their lives,” Fr Rasal said. The project providing education animation for the slum children of Jharsuguda aims to support the children accessing education. “Urban poor children are always deprived of early schooling,” Fr Rasal said. “They are many times victims of child labour and are used for anti-social activities in the cities. “Through the education animation of slum children, they are given extra attention and classes for their learning and they are also directed to schools for further learning. “Through these projects, slum children are given motivational accompaniment and there is a collective effort to provide character formation. “The Society of the Divine Word carries out education animation activities for urban poor children through tuition classes and various motivation programs. “This program helps children to read, write and understand the concepts prescribed in the academic schedule.” The project involves the SVD missionaries visiting the children and families in the slum; conducting preparatory classes as part of education animation; motivation, quizzes and skills training; awareness of health and hygiene; Awareness building on issues of child abuse; and the Celebration of International Children’s Day. “The project has had a big impact. Children from the slums are now regularly attending school and tuition classes and both parents and children are motivated towards the education of children,” Fr Rasal said. “Children are learning to be disciplined and are increasing their capacity to read and write. A few children from the slums are performing better in their exams and the over-all interest level of children towards school and education has increased.” Jharsuguda is also home to a growing number of rag-pickers among the slums as people seek to make a small living. “Along with their small-scale livelihood, they contribute towards creating a cleaner environment in the cities,” Fr Rasal said. “Our intervention is helping them towards better health and livelihood practices.” The project includes the SVD missionaries visiting the rag-pickers and their families in the slum; Availing them of possible government benefits; Collaborating with the rag buyers and dealers; Helping the rag pickers’ children through informal education; Forming a rag pickers group; Creating awareness about health and hygiene; Creating a saving mentality; and Organising a health camp for the rag pickers. “Through this project we’re in touch with about 44 rag pickers and we’ve been able to link them to ration benefits and health benefits through Government health care centres,” Fr Rasal said. “The children of rag pickers are given informal education and through this project, rag buyers or dealers are made to pay the required amount for the rags collected and sold. The project also provides blankets during winter for those who need them.” Fr Rasal said there is also a transgender community in Jharsuguda whose members face a lot of discrimination due to social stigma. “Our intervention helps the target group to live with dignity and respect. The project also facilitates skills training towards decent income-earning for transgender people and helps us reach out to them with animation programs.” Fr Rasal thanked the Australia Province and its benefactors and partners in mission for helping the projects come to life. “Thank you very much for supporting the animation work towards urban and rural poor and labour migrants in Jharsuguda, Odisha,” he said. SVD provides support to prevent discrimination for the transgender community National Education Day is celebrated for slum children