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Here is what actor-activist Nandana Sen is fighting for in Bengal

Kolkata: Writer, actor and child-rights activist Nandana Sen has partnered with Save the Children to start a major campaign, under the hashtag #SaveSupportSecure, to protect children in West Bengal whose lives have been devastated by the combined impact of COVID-19 and Cyclone Yaas.

The campaign is designed to provide comprehensive support for at-risk girls and boys who have lost one or both parents in this time of dual crisis.

The campaign titled For A Safe Tomorrow will formally launch on October 11, the International Day of the Girl, taking into account that girls are especially vulnerable to exploitation.

Nandana Sen, who is the child protection ambassador for Save the Children India, spearheaded the initiative and committed to match the first Rs 20 lakh of funds raised from other donors, informed an official communiqué from Save the Children.

“The campaign will provide a safe living environment, food security, access to education and health care, and psychosocial support for the most deprived children of Bengal, who have been left orphaned, or abandoned and unprotected, because of the pandemic or the cyclone, or both,” it added.

About the initiative, Nandana Sen said, “The past 18 months have been catastrophic for so many children in India, and nowhere has the crisis hit harder than in my beloved West Bengal. Save the Children and I have launched this campaign to ensure the safety and welfare of children in my home state whose lives have been torn apart by the deadly combination of COVID-19 and Cyclone Yaas.”

She added, “These children, most of whom have lost one or both parents, their homes and essentially their lifelines, stand exposed to many forms of exploitation, including trafficking, child labour and child marriage. They need help now more than ever before, which is why I decided to partner with Save the Children to start this campaign for their protection. I wanted to focus my efforts in my home state of West Bengal because the crisis is particularly huge there.”

At least two out of five girls are married before their legal age in West Bengal, and the figures for child labour have more than doubled in the state during the pandemic. At least 5 lakh children are engaged in child labour, placing West Bengal second among all states in India.

“This year has been particularly tough for the children of West Bengal as they endured the double blow of the second wave of the pandemic and Cyclone Yaas. Together with Nandana Sen, we are committed to provide a safer tomorrow for the most vulnerable children in the state, so they get the chance of a better future,” said Yasmin Riaz, Director of Resource Mobilization, Save the Children India.