There is a quote which states, “Today’s children are citizens of tomorrow”. Saroja, the founder of Chiguru Institute established in 1998, has been working hard for the upliftment of children by promoting their rights and helping to eradicate child labour.
Saroja was born in the industrial city of Bhadravati and spent her childhood there. Her father is an ex-military man and her mother, who is uneducated, made sure that all her 9 kids had access to education. She completed her schooling and college in a government school and a government college. After completing her B.Ed, Saroja became a teacher. She later shifted to Bengaluru with her husband and children.
She got an opportunity to visit different villages as part of a literacy campaign. Her work involved convincing adults to get educated, but she also found the real purpose of her life – to work for children’s welfare. “This ignited a spark in my mind which in turn gave birth to the idea of starting Chiguru Institute.” She came across an opportunity to study about children working at a silk factory at Magadi. This opportunity was utilised by her to know more about child labour. She also had to deal with the annoyance of people spouting quotes on children’s protection but not actually treating children well.
UNICEF, the government and others have supported her in running the institute. She, with the help of others, raided many places where children were being put to work, forcing them to discontinue their studies. Together, they could free close to 1,800 kids from child labour. They also started a hostel for girls at Chiguru for those who were orphans or semi orphans and survivors of sexual harassment. “Stop treating children as idols and treat them like how you treat humans!”
Many young women who were cared for by Saroja are today doing well in life and a few of them are working at Chiguru itself.
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