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Bala Mandir Kamaraj Trust

 
 
 
Activities

Bala Mandir was started primarily for the care of orphaned and destitute children. Over the years, the activities of the organisation have expanded and today covers a wide range of services  including the following –

Children’s Programme


The core activity of Bala Mandir is its children’s programme which consists of all aspects related to the all-round holistic development of the children admitted to full-time care in its Home.

Admission: Admitted below 6 years of age, with only a few exceptions of older children gaining admission,  Bala Mandir seeks to place  as many abandoned, orphaned and surrended children who can be legally cleared, in adoption in India. Many others who  grow up in Bala Mandir are children of destitute, deserted, deprived or widowed women, orphan children with relatives, and those from poverty stricken/disturbed families mostly, recommended to us by the Child Welfare Committee.




Discharge: Normally,children are discharged from the Home at 18 years of age for girls and 16 years of age Bala Mandir Childrenfor boys and positively only on completion of X or XII Std. and usually handed over into the custody of their parent or family. However, in all cases we continue to support their Higher Education.

In some cases, the parent or family wish to take the child back into their home – since their circumstances have  improved. We are most happy to place such children back with their family and continue to support them, under the growing home sponsorship scheme.

Transfer to another institution happens in exceptional cases where we are convinced that the child can get better medical care or opportunity for vocational training.

Orphan children who grow up in Bala Mandir, and have completed their education and settle well into their jobs - in the case of girls , move to working women's hostels and in the case of boys to 

Bala Mandir arranges for the marriage of orphan girls with maximum care and sensitivity and provides them with all the facilities for a comfortable transition  into society.




Care and Attention:

Over the years, Bala Mandir has developed, child centered systems for providing care and attention for the holistic development of children in its care, based on well- defined age and developmentally appropriate parameters.

An in-house clinic with visiting doctors takes care of all medical problems and where necessary, referrals are undertaken and hospital care given, in the best interests of the child.

The well-equipped kitchen takes care of all the nutritious and well-balanced menus provided at breakfast, lunch, tea and dinner, sponsored by loving donors who often join the children at mealtimes.

Tutors, care-givers and senior children oversee study hour in the evenings and on holidays, and help to supplement school work.

In their leisure time the Bala Mandir children can enjoy themselves in the play room, well-equipped with indoor games, toys and books specially suitable for each age group.

Children are encouraged and can benefit from good facilities for sports / yoga and opportunities to participate in various cultural functions to enable an all-round development.

Value education is part of the routine and all festivals are celebrated to ensure a holistic understanding of the religious and social practices surrounding them.

Outings ,entertainment programmes, participation in competitions in and around Chennai, help the socialistion process of the children.


Education
Being a child care organisation, Bala Mandir has extended its services to run full-fledged educational institutions. The education activity evolved around the growth and developmental needs of the Bala Mandir child and the aspirations of the nearby urban-slum community it serves. Apart from meeting the needs of its own children, the Bala Mandir educational institutions meet the needs of the socio-economically deprived community as well and endeavour to provide quality education at highly subsidised cost.

The educational activities of Bala Mandir consist of the following –



Day Care Centre – The Day Care Centre started in response to the need to prevent elder girl siblings from dropping out of school, to help parents care for younger ones while the parents went out to earn their living. Over the years the Bala Mandir Day Care Centre has grown as a child care institution and offers learning opportunities for staff of other NGOs as well.

Children above the age of one year are inducted into a holistic and fun-filled learning methodology, either the play-way or Montessori method.




Vidyalaya – This consists of the KG and Primary classes exclusively for the Bala Mandir institutionalised children. Many of the children need specialised attention and care to get over their childhood traumas.





Bala Mandir Primary School (BMPS) – This government-aided school which had only a Tamil medium section for Std. I to V, for the first five decades is now being upgraded to include an English medium section as well. Apart from the child-friendly ABL- activity-based learning methodology launched in Tamil Nadu, the school provides children opportunities to improve their spoken English skills and computer literacy. The children enjoy value-education through a well defined storytelling and activity /games based programme and those with learning problems are given special support and training.





Satyamurthi High School (SMHS) – This government-aided school has had both English and Tamil medium sections for a long time. A focused effort being made over the past few years to improve the quality of Bala Mandir High Schooleducation and discipline has shown positive results. The children from classes VI to X benefit from spoken English classes, Value education,Parents - Teachers Association craft and life skills classes. A well-organised school health education programme enhances the on-going curriculum and along with a science laboratory the children benefit from special education inputs as well.



Both schools have a smoothly functioning PTA through which parents give suggestions and express their aspirations and the Bala Mandir management is able to share its concerns about  the growing need for effective parenting care and discuss issues relating to it.


Vocational Training



In line with its philosophy of responding to the needs of the children, the Industrial Training Centre came into existence in 1999. Prior to that, starting from the 60s vocational training programme in carpentry, laundry and screen printing were in existence for school dropouts. Physically challenged youth and later, boys completing their 8th Std. also benifited from the training programmes. This training enhanced the resources of this income generating unit through the manufacture of educational aids and toys, Montessori self-learning materials and school furniture.

The changing needs of skills education encouraged Bala Mandir to set up the Industrial Training Centre, offering one-year carpentry course and two-year electrical and fitter course.





The ITC caters to youth from difficult and poverty-stricken backgrounds with educational qualifications of 8th pass/ 10th fail / 10th pass.

Apart from meeting the technical / skill requirement and employability skills, the ITC provides the trainees with more holistic training by creating awareness on gender sensitivity, positive work ethic, working in teams etc.The trainees (who are in their teens) go through Spoken English, Life Skills and Value Education classes for character building and enhancing their interpersonal and employability skills. Through visits to the various industries and guest lectures, the trainees are also exposed to the industrial environment to prepare them for the work in the industry and also give them a practical feel of the knowledge that they are gaining. The trainees also undergo health check-up every year free of cost. Any problems found are taken care of through referrals.

The trainees get jobs quite easily in industry. Those with aptitude and inclination are encouraged to pursue higher level technical courses.

In 2014, the one year NCVT carpentry course was discontinued and in its place a short term 6 month course on “carpentry for interiors” was started with 4 months of training in Bala Mandir and 2 months on the job training. The course content has been created in close consultation with the industry players. This is a Bala Mandir certified course and a total of around 20 boys are expected to undergo this course every year – 10 per batch. There is a big shortage of skilled carpenters and the trainees are assured of well-paying jobs in the future. After the completion of the course the trainees are placed with experienced contractors undertaking office and residence interior work. Some are also employed in various furniture factories.

A short term course on “Installation and Servicing of different types of Air Conditioners” was started in 2015 with active involvement and on-going support from Blue Star. This course includes 3 month training in Bala Mandir and one month on the job training at one of the Blue Star distributor’s place. A total of 60 trainees are expected to undergo this course every year – 20 per batch. In addition to training in installation and servicing of Air conditioners, the trainees are also provided with Spoken English, and Life Skills inputs for enhancing their interpersonal and employability skills. After the training, the job prospects are excellent especially in the urban setting. Most of the passed out trainees are employed by the Blue Star dealers or other AC dealers.
Medical & Health Programme


From its inception the care of children, has always entailed the need for Bala Mandir to have a well-defined medical/health care facility for its children. In the late 80s, however, the need to extend its medical services to all children who accessed Bala Mandir’s services led to the establishment of the Bala Mandir Vinayaka Clinic.

Starting with a Paediatric and Homeopathy clinic – the medical services moved to dental, eye care and physiotherapy and eventually into a full-fledged School Health Check-up Programme. Today, every child who enters Bala Mandir’s educational institutions undergoes a thorough yearly check-up and follow up, referrals being taken care of as well. Dental and Eye Screening are done for all and medication provided.




This care is extended to all staff of Bala Mandir and its units as well. The programme has expanded to include a Total School Health Education Programme designed to link with the Educational Syllabus Std.I to XII. Mental health care and counselling for behaviour problems are an important service of this unit and from time to time screening for specific health issues are undertaken eg. Kidney problems, Diabetes, Speech and Hearing etc.

Qualified doctors and counsellors offer their expertise on a voluntary basis and partnership with specialist medical organisations are also helping to take this medical/health care initiative forward.

Research Foundation


The Bala Mandir Research Foundation (BMRF) is an adjunct of Bala Mandir and was established in 1983 when Bala Mandir started using its experience Bala Mandir Research Foundationwith child care to make formal studies on holistic development of children.  Along withhelping to improve the quality of services available in the Bala Mandir institution, the Research Foundation networks with other organisations working in the field of ‘putting children first’. Training on and promotion of good Parenting Practices through programmes and projectshave been extended presently to NGOs in the four  States of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Gujarat.  In partnershipwith an Early Childhood Parenting tool, BMRF focuses on the psycho- social aspects of parent-child bonding, parentalinvolvement and creating settings for  self-expression in children. 

The Learning Through Play programme is valued as an educational tool and has been widely accepted in India, crossing regional, cultural and socio-economic boundaries. The life spirit of BMRF is its documentation, research and analysis of the situation of the children and the enhancement and dissemination of effective parenting and child care practices. A resource pool of publications around parenting has also been published.



Cultural Centre

For some time now, Bala Mandir has believed that in order to improve the life chances of the children under its care, the quality of education formal and informal needs enhancement. In the course of planning new activities, all forms representing the great traditions and values of our country have become a part of the cultural activities of the Bala Mandir child. In the future, Bala Mandir wishes to create a centre where children, parents and teachers can mingle with artistes, performers and exponents of the arts regularly and are in a reasonably structured setting to get acquainted with the rich and diverse traditional heritage of this country.

The hope is that they will develop a sense of the sacred, and an awareness of the amazing connectedness of nature and the shared humanity of all people. Ecology, peace studies, Gandhian messages for our lives, and creative expressions through dance, theatre, art and music will form the core of the activities of the Cultural Centre.