BSA Child Rights
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.
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
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.