Mehsana Observation home for boys has both observation home and Place of safety. It was converted from a Children’s Home for children in need of care and protection (CNCP) 2 yrs back. It is a modern two storey infrastructure on the main road.
It has about 50 children in conflict with law (CCL) within the age group of 16-21. The children are separated by age or mental condition. There are multiple rooms on two floors and have 3-4 or 7-8 children in each room. The staff strength is 14 with 6 guards. The house has a library and a classroom. The children spend their time watching television (about 2 hrs everyday), Reading Gujarati story books in Library, painting and playing indoor games.
A teacher (from Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan) comes everyday from 2 to 5 pm and a councelor from 10 to 6 pm.
Place of safety
The Place of safety is for children tried for Serious and Heinous crimes. The children for such crimes are supposed to be kept separate and given special attention for reform.
Here in Mehsana, Children were kept together according to their behavior and reputation with other children.
Role of Counselor
The counselor is on contract basis who comes regularly from 10am to 6pm. Any child who arrives at this home goes through multiple sessions with the counselor.
1st sitting- is all about “who” the child is.
2nd sitting- is about “why” is he here and his background.
It focuses on thinking change and making the child realize of his acts.
Breaking the Ice with children
In order to get real insights about the place and the system, it was important for us to talk to the children and for that we needed a medium. We needed to make it exciting and engaging for children and not a media interview.
So, We planned few “ice breaker tasks” and activities to get past their inhibitions and take out the information we wanted.
So we started with a circle of which even we were part of and then:
Task 1 Arranging yourselves by Age.
It was done to start a conversation among the children and for us understand the age group.
Task 2 Draw your partners portrait.
To connect to other children and for us to gauge their drawing skills and interest.
Task 3 Draw your Hobby.
To make them think about themselves and for us to grasp their personality and background.
Task 4 Group according to similar hobbies.
To see internal dynamics and see what common pattern emerges.
Task 5 List 5 things in common within the group formed.
To see how well they know each other and initiate consensus building.
Task 6 Two truth and a lie.
To make them think consciously about themselves
Task 7 New skill want to learn
To build aspiration and see possible intervention
Task 8 New thing learned in observation home
To see inmate-staff relation and peer to peer relation.
Task 9 One thing liked about the place
Adjustment in place and outlook towards the system
Task 10 What to do next
Interest level in activities.
This was an attempt to conduct research through Design.
Observations from the workshop
- Children showed enthusiasm for all the activities
- Some children were hesitant to participate in each group
- Interest in sports, music and dance was seen commonly across groups.
- The groups were amicable as a whole.
- Willingness to learn new skills, beat boredom.