February 10 2009

The brave children of India

09/02/2009 - The SOS Hermann Gmeiner School in Faridabad was honoured to be paid a visit by the twenty winners of the National Bravery Award, which is awarded to children in India each year. SOS Children's Villages India has been honoured to be involved in the awards since 1995.

Photo: SOS Archives
SOS mothers welcoming the award-winning children - Photo: SOS Archives
Speaking out against child marriage, saving friends from a fire, fighting off burglars in your home, rescuing friends from drowning in a river - these are not scenes from Hollywood, or even Bollywood films. They are acts of bravery shown by the 20 children who received the National Bravery Award.

On 24 January of 2009 they were all invited to the SOS Hermann Gmeiner School at Faridabad where they were applauded for their bravery and each given several prizes and distinctions, including an SOS Young Ambassador's badge. As a member of the panel of NGOs that review the nominations for the award, SOS Children's Villages of India has been honouring brave children every year since 1995.

As the children told the students and staff at the school about what they had done, the eight girls among them got an extra cheer for their presence of mind. Seema (17), from the central province of Chhattisgarh, suffered severe burns from saving several of her friends from a fire. Aashu Kanwar (14) from Rajasthan protested against the marriage that was planned for her, Kritika (15) managed to fend off the burglars who had entered her home, Heena Kuraishi (16) jumped into a river to save her classmates from drowning.

Photo: SOS Archives
Twenty children were honoured for their outstanding bravery - Photo: SOS Archives

The National Bravery Award gets a lot of attention in India. It was first presented in 1957 by the Indian Council for Child Welfare (ICCW) to recognise and honour children who had performed outstanding deeds of bravery and self sacrifice and the Awards are now presented by the Prime Minister on the eve of Republic Day. The children then take part in the majestic Republic Day parade in New Delhi, which is covered live on television and watched by millions every year.

Congratulating the children, S. Sandilya, President of SOS Children's Villages India said, "These children at their young age have demonstrated courage and compassion in their selfless gestures to fellow human beings. They are indeed great role models and are a source of inspiration for thousands of children. I am sure they will ignite the spirits of children of SOS Children's Villages of India across the country. I wish these children all the very best in their lives."