CEDAR was established in 1994 mainly to address the problem of child labour which was prolific in Southern Tamil Nadu. CEDAR was not only engaged in direct interventions in the community to abolish child labour but also in building the capacity of small NGOs who were keen to work on child rights.
CEDAR’s model of ‘child rights activism’ and ‘Capacity Building of small NGOs working for children’ was acknowledged by the ‘First International Conference of NGO Support Organizations’ convened by INTRAC at Oxford, UK in 1998.
Over 25 years CEDAR has partnered with several INGOs, Corporate Houses, International Charities and Government agencies in India. These include Zurich Financial Services Community Trust, UK (1994-2000), Action Aid India (2000-2012), Women Development Corporation of Government Tamil Nadu (1998-2012) British High Commission (2002-2005).
CEDAR’s greatest strength is its ability to develop ‘rights-based community action strategies’ to create ‘child centred spaces’ in families, schools and communities. At its peak, CEDAR was working in 165 village communities to liberate child labourers.
CEDAR has worked in partnership with Paper Boat for more than 20 years and given the close alignment of vision, values, purpose and mission serves as Paper Boat’s Nodal Agency in India – providing arms-length coordination, networking, monitoring, evaluation and sharing of learning across our programmes and partnerships.
Another of our long-term partners, the Society for Poor People’s Development (SPPD) have continued with various welfare schemes and development projects to improve the quality of life of families in Tiruchchirappalli District. Paper Boat continues to fund successful Education Study Centres in rural villages which have benefited 314 children – 137 boys and 177 girls during the last financial year.
SPPD have benefited from capacity building support from the nodal agency (CEDAR) to ‘upgrade’ their Education Study Centre model – through the creation of new community structures and forums that enhance children’s agency and voice including Children’s Collectives, Parent’s Collectives and Child Rights Monitoring Committees.
DACS is a small NGO run in the main by its visionary and hugely dedicated leader Mr Thankachan. At Paper Boat, we are committed to preventing unnecessary family-child separation and challenging institutionalisation. DACS meets the Indian government criteria for residential care as it is ‘last resort’ residential care. This is because the children are either orphans or have been abandoned by their families.
There is a very high level of stigma associated with HIV in Tamil Nadu. DACS not only provides a high-quality environment in which the children can flourish but he has worked hard to ensure the children are accepted in local schools and he challenges discrimination against them. He is an advocate for the rights of children with HIV, handing out leaflets at bus stops and is well-known in the area and well-respected by local agencies who often bring children to him. During the lifetime of the project he has reduced the mortality rate of children in care even though he has very limited financial resources.
Part of our wider network coordinated by CEDAR
Established in 2018, Tribal Dalit Initiatives is committed to a new dawn for the Dalit and Tribal communities of Kancheepuram District, Tamil Nadu, India. TDI believe a light needs to be shone on the injustices facing the Dalit and Tribal communities, especially about the acute challenges faced by women and children.
They advocate for a social reformation to address these injustices and are dedicated to implementing practical programmes to bring about sustainable change to reduce poverty, restore dignity and attain peoples Human Rights. The network is led by T. Raj, the convenor of Tribal Dalit Initiatives and Director of Kanchipuram based NGO Children’s Watch.
The network has 14 NGO members. All the NGOs are based in Kancheepuram District. Children Watch and TDI will work with CEDAR and Paper Boat to set up the prototype Children’s Hub for Irular tribal communities.
Established in 1992 by young human rights advocates firmly committed to strengthening youth leadership amongst most marginalised communities – specifically children from Dalit and Tribal backgrounds in Tamil Nadu. POPE works in 7 Districts in the state (Madurai, Dindigul, Theni, Sivagangai, Virudhunagar, Tanjore and Nagapattinam) and has a clear mission to ‘Protect and promote the fundamental rights of Dalits, Adivasi (scheduled tribes) and other most marginalised communities through quality education, accessing economic entitlements and justice.
In addition to community-based programmes in line with its mission, POPE has also developed strong research, policy and advocacy capacity and has been involved in some high-profile campaigns such as the ‘Campaign on Zero Discrimination in Schools’. This was a national campaign comprised of 500 children’s organisations advocating for equality for children from Dalit, Tribal and minority backgrounds in schools.
A core POPE value is inspiring young leaders and promoting youth leadership and agency amongst the hardest to reach and itself is led by passionate young leaders from marginalised backgrounds.