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A child leader fighting for child rights

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Thimma Reddy
 
For a change, a burn gave birth to fire. This is the story of Thimma Reddy from Raichur, who is emerging as one of the strongest child rights leaders, and of a larger vision for children.
From ensuring electricity in the primary government school of Navalkal to motivating drop-outs to re-enrol themselves along with bridging discussions with the panchayat, Thimma Reddy fills the shoes of a child, yet burdens the responsibility of an adult.
Three years ago, when Thimma Reddy was in the 9th grade, he went to collect firewood for cooking. Unfortunately he was electrocuted due to an unattended live wire. This accident left him severely injured with 80% of his body being burnt. His family had to sell the little land that they had for his treatment, which went on for six gruelling months. He missed the second half of his 9th grade classes.
As he slowly recovered, constant motivation and counselling was given to him by Shobha, a community organizer at a CRY-supported project, Shruti Samskruti Samasthe (SSS). Thimma wrote his final exam despite pain and difficulty posed by his burns. Thimma passed his SSLC examination in 2016. Currently, he is pursuing the 12th grade at Baiyapur College in Manvi town.
He recounts, “I was having excruciating pain when I was writing my exams. I couldn’t place my hands on the table as the burnt areas would hurt me so much.  I was resolute that I wouldn’t succumb because my family’s financial condition was such that re-appearing for the exams wouldn’t have been possible. Education would have given me the right foundation to pursue my vision and ensure that I could turn that into a workable reality.”
The battle he fought with his life taught him few crucial lessons on the importance of funds, opportunities, education and the need of an overall secure ecosystem for a child. He decided to dedicate his life towards that.
Thimma identified 32 children studying PUC (pre-University course) in his Gram Panchayat who required financial support. His friends then approached the Navalkal Panchayath members seeking financial aid for their studies.
At first, the Panchayat members denied them demands. However, their relentless pursuit ensured a provision of financial aid for all 32 children studying 1 & 2 PUC. As a result of this initiative, a total of 317 children applied for scholarship and thereafter received financial support.
Thimma, together with other members from Children Collective (an initiative of CRY where children come together to socialize, learn and discuss issues pertaining to their rights), goes to the Panchayat asking information regarding the policies and benefits of children. He asks for detailed information which is passed onto other children in the village to make them more aware of their rights.
Thimma and his friends also go to different Anganwaadi centres to monitor food services for children. “I like to go to Anganwaadis to see the smiles of the children,” he says. During the visits, he also observes the status of malnourished children, condition of the building and quality of the food.
 A child leader fighting for child rights, indeed!

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