Butterflies India

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FounderRita Panicker Pinto
FocusChildren's Rights
MethodRights-based, participatory, non-institutional approach

Butterflies organisation is a registered voluntary organization that has been operating in Delhi since 1989. The organization focuses on assisting the vulnerable, particularly those on the streets. Employing a rights-based and participatory methodology, Butterflies aims to provide education and life skills to these children.[1]

Genesis and principles[edit]

The idea began in the 1980s, when Rita Panicker Pinto[2] began interacting with children living on the streets and platforms of Mumbai. Rita, along with Asst. Professor P. Nangia, did a Situational Analysis of Study of Street and Working Children in Delhi for UNICEF in 1988.[3] Butterflies[4] was then created in 1989.[5]


Butterflies, founded in 2001, have initiated a number of interventions with various government and non-government agencies. The main programmes are Education, Children's Development Khazana (life skills programme teaching financial management),[6] Child Health Cooperative (CHC),[5] Children's Media (Butterflies Broadcasting Children),[5] Resilience Centre and Childline (1098, 24-hour helpline for children in crisis),[5] Night Shelters for homeless children, vocational training (Butterflies School of Culinary and Catering and Computer Education), Chakhle Dilli catering service, Advocacy and Research Centre (ARC), Alliance Building, and Right to Play and Child Social Protection Committee Programme.[5]

In the year 2009, on a request by the Delhi High Court, Butterflies also ran a programme for children in conflict with law in an Observation Home for Boys in New Delhi.

Butterflies flagship programme is the Children's Development Khazana (CDK), an education programme on democratic values and financial management. Children are also taught communication, gender equality and sensitivity and entrepreneurship.[5] The main aim is to teach street children aged between 9 and 18 to be responsible on managing their finances, and they can be a member of Khazana, which is run by themselves under the guidance of adult.[5] The children deposit whatever they earn and every one of them is also given a passbook.[5] Every six months, member children elect a Child Volunteer Manager (CVM) and an Assistant Child Volunteer Manager (ACVM), and after voting, the elected CVM and ACVM undergo training on how to manage their respective CDK and they are also taught how to manage the Cash Book, Ledger Book and Pass Books of the members and, for each implementing organization, the amount deposited by children in their CDK account is then deposited in a mainstream bank in a separate CDK account.[5]

As of March 2018, CDK is operational in eight countries where it is working in collaboration with partner organisations (five in Asia, two in Africa) and in nine states and Union Territories of India (Jammu & Kashmir, Kerala, Delhi, Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha, Rajasthan, Andaman & Nicobar Islands and Maharashtra)[5] with a total membership of 16,912 children (8,981 boys and 7,923 girls) and savings amounting to $82,061.[5]

Since 1995, Butterflies have also been running the Child Health Co-operative, for street children where they discuss their health problems and plan strategies to combat health problems. As of March 2018, CHC is operational in eight countries and in ten states of India with a total membership of 9,354 children (4,984 boys and 4,370 girls).


Founded in 1989 by Rita Panicker, who also serves as its Executive Director. Through the Children's Cooperatives Programmes (CDK and CHC), Butterflies is also present in eight countries (Afghanistan, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Madagascar and Ghana) and ten states and Union Territories of India (Jammu and Kashmir, West Bengal, Kerala, Delhi, Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa, Rajasthan, Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Maharashtra).

Butterflies facilitated a children's forum in Delhi called the Delhi Child Rights Club in 1998, which has children from 13 NGOs as its members. DCRC has taken up the issue of right to play with the mayors and chief minister of Delhi to get access to open spaces for children to play.

Butterflies has facilitated and is the convenor of National Alliance of Grassroots NGOs for Protection of Child Rights (NAGN), an alliance of 39 grassroots community based organizations from 13 states. Butterflies have also facilitated and are the convenor of South Asian Alliance of Grassroots NGOs (SAAGN)[7] having 136 members from the region.

Butterflies is also a member of Family for Every Child, a global alliance of local civil society organisations. Rita Panicker, executive director of Butterflies, is currently the vice-chair of the board.

Awards and recognition[edit]

  • Recipient of the International Cooperative Innovation Award 2020 by the U.S. Overseas Cooperative Development Council
  • Rita Panicker was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award 2016 by the National Association of Professional Social Workers in India for her distinct contribution in the domain of child rights, especially street and working children at the 4th Indian Social Work Congress.
  • Rita Panicker was honoured by Shri Amitabh Bachchan on the new Star Plus show Aaj Ki Raat Hai Zindagi in 2015
  • Vanitha Woman of the Year 2012 by the Malayala Manorama group. The award was instituted to acknowledge the work done by Malayali women to serve Indian society[8]
  • IGSSS Shrestha Puraskar, 2011, by the Indo Global Social Service Society in New Delhi for Panicker's pioneering work with street and working children.[9]
  • Nominated and a finalist for the 2009 Right Livelihood Award.
  • Awarded the Zee Pehal Pioneering Personalities L. N. Goel Award in 2006.[9]
  • Awarded the Women of Social Work Excellence by the Manava Seva Dharma Samvardhani Charitable Trust for Social Service Consciousness, Chennai, on 27 February 2002.[9]
  • Children's Development Khazana started by her organization Butterflies in 2001 received the Second Prize in the 2006 Global Development Network Award for the Most Innovative Development Project.[10][11]
  • The Ramachandran - Ikeda Award 1999 was conferred on Panicker's organization Butterflies[9]


  1. ^ "Butterflies NGO". www.butterfliesngo.org.
  2. ^ TEDx Talks (14 January 2013). "Rita Panicker: Little Treasures at TEDxChristUniversity" – via YouTube.
  3. ^ Cheerath, Bhawani (14 November 2013). "Giving wings to childhood". The Hindu – via www.thehindu.com.
  4. ^ Family for Every Child (30 April 2013). "James and Rita discuss child-led research" – via YouTube.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Goled, Shraddha (7 December 2018). "This Cooperative By And For The Street Children Is Helping Them Save Their Earnings". thelogicalindian.com.
  6. ^ Werhane, Jenny Mead and Patricia H. (4 October 2013). "In India, teaching and empowering street kids to save money" – via www.washingtonpost.com.
  7. ^ "SAAGN - South Asian Alliance of Grassroots NGOs for child's right". www.saagn.org.
  8. ^ Vanitha Woman of the Year 2012
  9. ^ a b c d "Butterflies: About Us". Butterflies NGO. Retrieved 22 July 2016.
  10. ^ "In India, Teaching and Empowering Street Kids to Save Money". The Washington Post. Retrieved 22 July 2016.
  11. ^ "This Cooperative By And For The Street Children Is Helping Them Save Their Earnings". The Logical Indian. 7 December 2018.

External links[edit]