What has Worked at Butterflies

Children at the Heart of Our Work

Since inception Butterflies has worked to establish programmes for children which embody the very values of participation and democratic ethos. The concept of children’s participation which was unheard of in the early 1980s and 90s has now become a working model among all non-profits. Over the years through our programmes that espouse the values of democratic participation of children, Butterflies has been able to earn the respect and trust of the children for whom and with whom it has worked and help them envision a brighter and more stable future for themselves and their families and communities. 


Sports for Development

Sports, breaking barriers

Our success so far is partly attributed to the innovative strategies that we employ while implementing our programs that attract the attention and interest of key populations. For instance, we use football to teach children and adolescents about life skills like team work, discipline, respecting rules, accepting success and failures as part of any sports and play…. etc.  Sports and play creates an avenue for making friends, breaking barriers of language, class, caste, religion and ethnicity. It supports in staying healthy both physically and emotionally, creates positive energy and brings in cheer and fun. We use sports and play to engage with children, parents and communities.


Alliances and partnerships to share learnings, practice exchange and strengthen advocacy 

As a grassroots organization we recognised the importance of building alliances and partnerships with grassroots organisations within the country and globally to learn, share and collaborate on programmes and advocacy initiatives to bring about a transformation in the lives of the most marginalised communities. Butterflies is a member of Family for Every Child, a global alliance of local CSOs from 36 countries. It is also a member of India Alternative Care Network, an alliance working on the issue of alternative care. Butterflies has facilitated Delhi Child Rights Club(DCRC), a forum of, by and with children of Delhi to advocate with the policy makers and general public to make Delhi a child friendly city, a city that respects the agency of children and their entitlements. We have also facilitated a National Alliance of Grassroots NGOs (NAGN) which enables each organisation to harness their collective strength and together become a potent force for children, multiplying their outcomes and reach countless more children.

Butterflies recognises, the importance of partnering with national and state government to bring lasting change in the lives of children through strengthening of policies, legislations and programmes. We partner with Ministry of Women and Child Development and Ministry of Education, Government of India and with the Department of Education, of Uttarakhand State government.


Community Driven Approach

“It takes a village to raise a child” is an African proverb that means that an entire community of people must provide for and interact positively with children for those children to experience and grow in a safe and healthy environment.

Butterflies has been working with street-connected and working children and their families, either living on streets or slums (notified or non-notified) in Delhi since 1989. Butterflies’ experience in the field over the years supplemented by empirical study reports have revealed that homeless and vulnerable children face multiple forms of violence in their lives. Our experience has further highlighted that denial of survival & development rights of children and their families is closely related to protection issues. The involvement of community and the state is vital to address these complex interrelated issues that increase children’s vulnerability in the urban spaces.

Butterflies employs a community driven approach to the implementation of its programmes. Across all locations, we have made sure that the community is involved at all stages and processes, right from the planning, to the implementation, and monitoring.

Through our programmes we empower families to sustainably solve their problems, foster shared problem solving through leveraging on their individual and community resources and strengths.


Empowering through life skills

All our programmes are centred around empowering children with life skills. Life skills are the skills that a children acquire through learning and experience, and which help them to effectively deal with issues and problems they might face in their daily life. These skills include: creativity, critical thinking, finding solutions to problems, ability to communicate and cooperate with others, to recognise that rights comes with responsibilities, to have an awareness about personal and social responsibility.

In a constantly changing environment, having life skills is an essential part of being able to meet the challenges of everyday life. The dramatic changes in global economies over the past five years have been matched with the transformation in technology and these are all impacting on education, the workplace, and our home life.

Life skills provide children with important tools for development, such as independent thinking, how to socialize and make new friends, and how to take action in situations where their parents or teachers may not be around to help or intervene (dealing with a bully or personal insecurities and fears, for example.) Unlike motor skills and basic intelligence, executive function and decision-making skills are not innate but learned.


Vocational Skill Building

Jobs with Dignity

Butterflies’ belief and endeavour has been that a technical or vocational skill training should be such that a poor disadvantaged young person can get a high end job.  Towards this goal to give street and working adolescents and young persons dignified professions led Butterflies to start India’s first catering institute for street connected teenagers above the age of seventeen to study a professional course in culinary and catering and enter the hospitality industry as well trained professional chefs, comparable to graduates from world-class institutes. The training includes completion of high school education along with culinary and entrepreneurship courses so that they get good jobs in leading hotels or fine dining restaurants or even start their own ventures.

These young persons who would have otherwise been lost in the local eateries,  street food kiosks of Delhi are today respected professional chefs in fine dining restaurants, five star hotels, and cruise liners in India and abroad and have been able to take themselves and their families out of the trap of generational  poverty. A remarkable story is of Hasim who joined Butterflies as a child when he was a scrap picker and is now a Souz Chef in a cruise liner in Florida, USA. He specialised in French cuisine.

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