Project Lion



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Child Protection in India


Saroo Brierley was just 5 the day he became separated from his brother at a railway station in India and ended up alone on a speeding train that took him 1,000 miles away from home. The saga of how he survived life on the streets and his eventual adoption by an Australian couple inspired the 2016 movie "Lion." It also called attention to the plight of India’s “forgotten” children — those forced to survive without parents or family.

Today, 1.5 million children are growing up in residential institutions in India. Often privately run and poorly regulated, these facilities can leave children extremely vulnerable to abuse, exploitation and neglect. To protect them and give them their fair chance at a better life, UNICEF USA launched Project Lion with a generous seed grant from Purvi and Harsh Padia.

The Padia’s and Purvi Padia Design have also supported Project Lion through a number of special collections.

Watch Purvi and UNICEF USA’s former President and CEO Caryl M. Stern talk about giving back to India’s “forgotten” children and UNICEF’s Project Lion:

Project Lion is a three-year program seeking to improve the lives of 200,000 of these children by:

  • Enforcing standards of care: Establishing a monitoring system in residential facilities to ensure children have access to proper education, adequate nutrition and health and protection services, targeting residences in Gujarat, Odisha, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.
  • Strengthening the child protection workforce: UNICEF will provide training to social workers, caregivers, staff and management at child care institutions and other child protection actors to ensure that they have the knowledge, skills and expertise to provide quality support for children without family care.
  • Providing services for vulnerable families: Support services will be provided to vulnerable families across 50 districts to ensure that at-risk children are able to stay with their families. These include rehabilitative services for children who have been reunited with their families.
  • Modeling alternatives: To learn more about alternative child care experiences, including community-based care, UNICEF will develop a model in three states, document findings, and eventually expand successful models to benefit more children who are living without parental care.

This critical program ensures that the thousands of Indian children who’ve been left without family can grow up in loving, stable, nurturing and protective environments.