From the Grassroots...
If you ask her about her ultimate goal, her reply would be, "to rid Maharashtra of child slavery."
Who more would have the credibility of a grassroots women’s rights and anti-child labor activist than someone like Anuradha Bhosale, who was herself a child labor victim at age six Life’s experiences helped shape her to be the strong and independent woman that she is now. Despite her rude awakening from the realities of life, this did not close her eyes to the realization that thousands more of her countrymen deserve to live better lives. More importantly, that she CAN help them achieve it.
She recognised the need for empowering and educating women to help make them independent and self-sufficient. Her Bachelor's degree in Social Work was an advantage in her mission to help solve the problem on child labor. She founded the Women and Child Rights Campaign (WCRC) which focuses on educating and empowering widowed, divorced and abandoned women – women, who if not empowered to help themselves and be self-sufficient, will likely end up sending their children into child labor activities, to help augment the family income, instead of sending them to school.
Her belief that with education and self-reliance, growth and independence can be achieved, encouraged her to establish the WCRC (Women and Child Rights Campaign). Through WCRC, thousands of widowed, divorced and deprived women in the rural areas of Kolhapur, India were educated, trained and empowered. They learned not only to be self-sufficient but also to realize that they are empowered and have constitutional rights that they should fight for. 52,000 of these empowered women now receive some $714,000 in monthly government pension checks they were once not even aware of being entitled to.
Through the AVANI organization she founded, she was able to help rescue 541 child laborers, provided 5,604 nomadic migrant children and school drop outs the right to health care and education, organized the construction of schools inside the brickyard labor camps and established a residential home for migrant children.
It was also through AVANI where she launched an education campaign for ordinary voters through street play performances as medium for her awareness campaigns. She was at the forefront of public rallies and protest demonstrations. In one of Dr. Sunilkumar Lavate’s public speeches, a Principal of Mahaveer College in Kolhapur, he called her the "Phulan Devi of Kolhapur" (an ordinary village woman, who was abducted by outlaws and raped, escaped and turned herself into a 'bandit queen' to avenge her assailants, jailed and later elected to the Parliament).
Anuradha has been running the school since 2004 where children are provided with food, shelter, education. Fifty percent of their expenses are from public donations and through the grant given by Mahatma Gandhi Foundation, Mumbai, run by the grandson of the Mahatma. AVANI is also supported by GoPhilanthropic and Unite to Light, non-profit organizations that support the same cause as AVANI.
She will be travelling from India to the U.S. to attend meetings and other gatherings in Chicago, Rochester NY, to raise awareness in continuing support for the GWEI(Gandhi Worldwide Education Institute)-AVANI Child Education Residence in Kolhapur, India.
Anuradha is indeed a picture of a woman who has become the voice of those who have none – the child laborers and disadvantaged women of Kolhapur, India. A trait worth emulating...