The Challenges and their affects
Youth from economically disadvantaged communities in both Urban and Rural Tamil Nadu are facing a growing crisis as a result of being marginalized by their support systems.
What are the challenges faced by such youth ?
For reasons relating to poverty and belief systems, family elders are unable to pay the attention necessary to raise their children or even to maintain a psychologically stable household (e.g. alcohol, domestic violence, etc.)
Other sections (neighbours and civil authorities) look down upon these communities due to class/caste system. As a result underprivileged groups are unable to exercise their rights as individuals/citizens.
Schools are unable to be effective for such children, given the affects of their domestic situation. Further, education is undervalued by (often illiterate) parents, often leading to high rates of dropouts by the 8th standard.
What are the effects of these challenges?
We have observed time and again such influences (and negligence) in the upbringing of teens, leads to :
1.Poor physical and mental health:
a. Poor diet and hygiene, often leading to chronic physical ailments at very young ages.
b. Stifled emotional development – Low self-esteem/self-worth, an attitude to accept servitude or feeling helpless to overcome society’s norms against their progress.
2. Poor regard/respect for others: The opposite sex (e.g. womanizing or abuse) / elders / people from other communities.
3. Bad habits : Alcohol/drugs, early/unsafe sexual activity and other delinquent behaviour (e.g. bullying, gang violence) which impacts them and the rest of society too.
4. High unemployment rates or employment at low-waged manual labour, with no prospects to progress their career or their social standing.
Without appropriate and timely intervention, such individuals go through their life with a lack of direction and fall victim to ‘the poverty trap’.
Consequently, such localities remain poor over generations (partly evidenced by growing size & number of slums) and the crime rate in the surrounding neighbourhoods continues to grow.
The ‘Ithika Approach’
Over the past two years, Ithika staff (with the supervision of a professional psychologist) & volunteers, have developed and successfully implemented a set of curricula to address the above-mentioned core issues.
The overall focus of our programmes is to empower youth with self-belief in their talents and abilities, resilience to overcome any challenges in order to achieve their goals and awareness about their society and the world. Together, such programmes would equip them to develop into responsible and highly employable adults.
Along side the immediate” or “Apart from the immediate benefits to the individuals, we believe that our approach has cascading effects on their society as future generations who would have positive role-models to look up to.
We accomplish the above with Ithika’s curriculum, implemented as our 3 programmes: Ilanthalir , Thisai and Kaadu .