Our History

BSA Child Rights

History

Our Founders

The sisters of St. Joseph of Cluny was established by prominent French nun Anne-Marie Javouhey alongside eight others in 1807. The sisters’ key mission was to uphold human rights for all and provide education to the underprivileged across the globe. The sisters strongly believe that no child should be deprived of basic rights to education and personal development, just because they do not have access to the resources needed to realise their dreams. Their work overseas began in 1817 on Reunion, a French territory off the east coast of Africa and quickly expanded across Africa and gradually throughout various parts of the world.

The Cluny sisters first set foot in India in Pondicherry during 1827. There work here remained focused on providing education to the underprivileged and proved successful, causing them to spread throughout India, arriving in West Bengal and the Kalimpong region in 1861. In this area, their work remained focused on education, while also working on developing healthcare and agriculture. Work continued to expand in this region over the next century, and today, the Cluny sisters are involved in various social initiatives across the Kalimpong District including the founding the Cluny Women’s College in 1998 and, our organisation, the Bal Suraksha Abhiyan Trust (BSA) in 2005.

Our Story

In 2005, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Cluny believed that the growing number of child labourers in the Kalimpong region was becoming a serious cause for concern. To address it, the sisters brought up the issue up at the provincial meeting in late 2005. From this, they determined that child labour was, in fact, a significant issue in the area, so they began taking action to prevent it. 
 
To begin with, the sisters conducted a door-to-door survey in and around Kalimpong and neighbouring villages to gain more information on the issue of child labour. Findings revealed that child labour was rampant. 261 child labourers were identified in the municipality area of the subdivision who were employed across many professions. The children were usually trafficked by agents and sold to employers in the area, having originated from neighbouring districts such as Jalpaiguri and states such as Assam and Bihar.In 2005, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Cluny believed that the growing number of child labourers in the Kalimpong district was becoming a serious issue. To address it, the sisters brought the problem up at the provincial meeting in late 2005, and from this, they determined that child labour was widespread in the in the area, so they began taking action to prevent it. Often forced to work long hours for paltry sums, children exposed to child labour are denied the right to education, development and recreation, and suffer various forms of physical and verbal abuse. As providing underprivileged children with education is core to the sisters work, they believed that taking action against child labour would greatly contribute to their work.

To begin with, the sisters conducted a door-to-door survey in and around Kalimpong and neighbouring villages to gain more information on the issue of child labour. Findings revealed that child labour was rampant. 261 child labourers were identified in the municipality area of the district who were employed across many professions. The children were usually trafficked by agents and sold to employers in the area, having originated from neighbouring districts such as Jalpaiguri and states such as Assam and Bihar. Using this information, the sisters began 

their work on building a strategy to rescue and rehabilitate these children. This saw the creation of our organisation, the Bal Suraksha Abhiyan Trust (Movement for Child Protection) in November 2006 which then became a registered NGO in June 2007, as an organisation whose focus it is to help these children. BSA began running missions to rescue children exposed to child labour and then keep the children on their premises for rehabilitation. Here, the children are provided with food and shelter, counselling if it is required, and are enrolled in mainstream education if ready for it and if not, are given education at BSA so they can catch up to their peers.
 

In late 2007, BSA partnered with the Glenn Family Foundation (GFF) who donated funds to build the Child Labour Rehabilitation Centre on BSA premises. The facility opened in 2009 and is equipped with dormitories, offices and recreation areas, allowing BSA to house up to 130 children permanently. GFF has continued to provide funds to BSA since 2007, which are used to support 100 children with basic needs such as education, food, health and hygiene.

In 2011, BSA became an NGO partner of CHILDLINE India, becoming responsible for running the 1091 Hotline for children in distress within the Kalimpong district. As a result, BSA formed a CHILDLINE team who manage this phone line 24/7 to offer instant access to support, actively intervene or simply just offer a listening ear for children in distress.

Since then, BSA has remained committed to fulfilling its vision of a child labour free society, having rescued and rehabilitated over 600 children since its foundation. Over this time, the BSA team has grown significantly and currently has over 20 staff members who contribute in various ways to fulfilling this vision.