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Prayas is one of India's largest non-profit organisations. Its goal is to protect the rights of marginalised children, women and young people. Prayas has projects in seven states across India serving an estimated 100,000 people. The organisation is based in Delhi.
The organisation initially focussed on providing shelter and education to children affected by the disaster. Since then it has expanded into many other areas. It now provides alternative education, shelter homes, health and nutrition and other services to marginalised children across India. Disadvantaged women and teenagers also avail of services offered by Prayas, in particular vocational education. In response to crises, such as the 2001 Gujarat earthquake and the 2004 tsunami, Prayas has expanded its services outside of Delhi in recent years and now operates in seven states across India.
Prayas provides alternative education to 50,000 street, neglected and working children. Most of these are in Delhi but Prayas education centres are also located in Bihar, Gujarat, Assam, Haryana and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Children who have fallen out of the government education system are provided with quality non-formal education in order to allow them to catch up and reintegrate into the state system. Students are given mid-day meals and regular health check ups. The organisation's alternative education centres have been identified as models of best practice by the Indian government and the United States Department of Labor.
Shelter homes and observation homes
Prayas operates several large shelter homes in Delhi. These homes cater for children who have been orphaned, abandoned, sold into labour or subjected to physical or sexual abuse. Residents are given shelter, education, health care, counselling and vocational training. Prayas also operates a custodial shelter home for juveniles in conflict with the law, in cooperation with the Delhi government.
Health and nutrition
Prayas operates a number of 24-hour primary health care clinics in the slum areas of Delhi. The Prayas health service provides services including mobile health camps and out patient services to street children outside the reach of standard government services. A major HIV/AIDS awareness programme began in 2005 in association with government schools across Delhi.
The organisation operates vocational training programmes for over 10,000 women and young people. Participants are given training courses for up to two years in skills including carpentry, beauty culture, dress designing, handicrafts, screen printing, computer applications, bakery and more. Prayas organises work experience and employment for many successful graduates of its training courses.
Established in 2004, the Prayas Child Line initiative is a 24-hour free phone service for children in difficulty. With government support, Child Line services are now available to children in 56 cities in India. It serves as a point of first contact for children suffering as a result of abuse, neglect, homelessness, trafficking, child labour and other social problems. 400,000 children used the service in its first year with an aim to provide education support to the maximum numbers of poor children who are not able to pursue their education because of their financial conditions, those who are homeless, orphaned or underprivileged.
Prayas is one of India's leading advocacy groups for the rights of children. It has consistently lobbied the government for more resources for education and health for children and stronger legislation protecting children. It has carried out major studies on issues including child labour and trafficking. Prayas was selected by the Indian government to help carry out the National Child Abuse Study, the largest project of its kind ever carried out in India.
Prayas has made contributions to the formulation of Indian government policy, including the Juvenile Justice Act and the Offences Against Children Act. Prayas is a member of the National Commission for Children, an advisory body on children's issues.
- Prayas projects have received financial backing from numerous international organisations including the United Nations and the governments of Canada, Japan, Australia, Norway and the United States.
- Prayas received international recognition for anti-trafficking initiatives by the 2006 Trafficking in Persons Report published by the US Department of State. Amod Kanth, the head of Delhi Police and founder of Prayas, was commended as an international "model of public service" for his efforts on behalf of India's children.
- The Prayas Observation Home for Boys at Delhi Gate has been commended as best practice in the Juvenile Justice System in South Asia.
- The Prayas Children's Home at Jahangirpuri has proved out to be a model institution where children in conflict with the law are kept with abosolutely no confinement and are provided vocational training and alternative education as well as formal schooling and are also placed at various jobs by the placement cell of Prayas, so that they can be mainstreamed in the society.
- Prayas' alternative education centres have been cited as models of best practice by the Indian government and the United States Department of Labor, to be replicated by government funded INDUS project.
- Laura Bush, the first lady of the United States, visited Prayas' headquarters in Tughlaquabad as part of her state visit to India in 2006.