We are working with the Puducherry Police in their Project Punnagai (meaning smile), a path-breaking effort to give a new life to orphans and destitute youth by providing them with job oriented skills training.
In the last academic year 2015-16, as part of Phase I of the project, 50 youth in the age group of 16-18 were provided skills training by SVRCC. In the current academic year 2016-17, the college expects to train between 150 and 200 youth as part of Phase II.
The story of Project Punnagai is a heart-warming and eye-opening example of what an enlightened police department and administration can do to provide new hope to disadvantaged youth in local communities.
The Punnagai Project – a brief history
In July 2015, as a directive of Ministry of Home Affairs, Govt. of lndia, “Operation Muskaan”, a month-long special campaign, was undertaken by officials of Crime Branch CID Police to rescue and rehabilitate the missing or abandoned children in Puducherry.
Police teams had collated the particulars of all the untraced missing children since 2000, and with the help of Social Welfare Department, Child Welfare Committee and NGOs had inspected 67 child care homes in Puducherry and Karaikal regions. Operation Muskaan had rescued 14 street children, and reunited 13 of them with their parents, and also located 34 children in 15 shelters who were in need of care and support. The identity of these children could not be established due to the fact that these 34 children had no known family to be reintegrated into.
Not satisfied with the success of this project, or just locating these 34 children in child care homes, and also acutely aware that when an adolescent left the home at the age of 18 years as they must, he or she would not be in a position to survive on his/her own, the Puducherry Police department decided to organise Project Punnagai, a follow-up scheme to Project Muskaan.
This scheme was designed to provide a new life to orphans by improving their skill sets both academically and vocationally and thus to prepare them for a life beyond their child care homes. The idea was to link these 34 children and others from a similar background with a time-bound vocational training system through a one-year scholarship involving ten basic trades such as refrigeration, electrical work, housekeeping and automobile servicing.
As Punnagai evolved from an idea to a concrete and comprehensive project, it envisaged a set of actions such as group counselling sessions and motivation program for children from different homes, identifying their skills and developing them, minimising problem behaviour, imparting behaviour modification for juveniles, delivering therapeutic interventions and vocational training in collaboration with various NGOs.
The Rotary Club of Pondicherry Beach Town took a prominent role in the implementation of the project along with a few companies which agreed to sponsor the children and have committed to offer placements upon graduation. Owing to its exemplary track record and infrastructure, and its focus on holistic education, SVRCC was chosen as the institute to impart the skills training.
At SVRCC, we are honoured and humbled by this – and all the more inspired to be a part of this transformational project of the police dept.
The Puducherry Police dept as well as other stakeholders believe that Punnagai has the potential to become a model for other states to follow.
Following up on the success of the Punnagai Project, the Puducherry Police dept is now implementing Punnagai II in 2016 to further identify and help those destitute and orphaned children who would otherwise be left behind in our society.