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Church bodies, civil society launch ''Child Friendly Guwahati''


By C.M.Paul
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Guwahati, Aug. 3. Church bodies in Guwahati and civil society under the leadership of Don Bosco Society launched a movement for ''Child Friendly Guwahati,'' 3rd August. Some 800 street children (300 from Snehalaya homes and 500 from five Shishu Prerona Kendras) came together at Don Bosco School Guwahati for a five-hour program. Archbishop John Moolachira of Guwahati is the chief patron.
The evening started with a magic show, tea and the inaugural function with songs from children. It was followed by musical evening with pop artists and DJ night.

The launch ceremony had 12 children with lighted candles from five Shishu Prerona Kendras, as well as a choir from Snehalaya on stage along with a galaxy of dignitaries from Government departments including Principal Secretary, Municipal Commissioner, Lions & Rotarians, NGOs and film personalities who pledged support for CFG movement.

Besides screening of a short film on street children on the theme ''All rights to all children'' produced by Fr Shaibu MSFS and Miss Chetana two CFG websites were launched:
www.chidrenfriendlyguwahati.com and www.thisweekguwahati.com

''It is our common mission as members of the church and civil society to join the movement for a Child Friendly Guwahati,'' said Salesian provincial of Guwahati Fr Thomas Vattathara addressing the gathering.

The CFG chairman Fr Vattathara complimented the works of religious congregations already working for street children such as Bethany Sisters, Missionary Sisters of Mary Help of Christians, Salesian Sisters and Salesians of Don Bosco who run Snehalya centers since 2000.

To ensure that the CFG movement spreads, Fr Vattathara has released two full timers: Fr Solomon as director of the project, and MSW gold medalist Br Prasad as assistant coordinator.

The CFG is a focused project to create a city-wide movement of citizenry for children especially those who are out of school, and to ensure their rights to survival, protection, development and participation,'' said Fr Solomon.

''We want to become a movement,'' added Br Prasad speaking of setting up some 40 to 50 centres in six months by January 2014.

''Besides collaborating with the government, the project will promote volunteerism, mobilize media collaboration, encourage sponsorship and build up the capacities of the various stakeholders,'' he said explaining the project.

''Though it looks ambitious, it is possible,'' he added.

Snehalaya founder director Fr C.T. Lukose assured the gathering, ''there are more than enough poor children in the city for all of us to reach out.''

He called on everyone to be defenders of the children stating, ''protection is an area we have to ensure, especially of girl children.''

The CFG project aims at generating greater awareness among the people, and to create a sense of responsibility in the community for the rights of the underprivileged children.
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