Our research shows that at least 9% of carers in India and Nepal are under 17 years of age. The gender imbalance that is found amongst adult carers extends to child carers, with girls providing care in significantly more cases than boys. For families who have both sons and daughters, the common scenario is for the female siblings to provide care when it is needed due to the perception of caring as a “feminine” role.
Children and young people who who look after ill or disabled relatives are not only responsible for caring activities, but also find themselves taking on the responsibility of other household chores such as cooking and cleaning. As a consequence they have little time to study or socialise with their peers. Many have to stop attending school completely and cease to have a social life because they need to be available for caring duties 24/7.
This situation was experienced by Ramanjinamma, from India, who is a carer for not just one of her parents, but for both of them. Unable to complete her schooling and with limited opportunity to make friends, the choices available to Ramanjinammaoutside of the home have been extremely limited. For many child carers like her, the lack of education and socialization means that they enter adulthood without the necessary communication skills or qualifications to attain employment. Sadly, this increases the likelihood of them going on to experience a lifetime of poverty.
Before we started our work with child carers in India and Nepal, there were no support mechanisms available to them. The lack of connection with the outside world was causing many to withdraw further due to anxiety and depression, making it extremely difficult for them to cope with their circumstances, let alone ask for support.
Our initiatives have been the first of their kind to be implemented in developing countries, reaching childen and young people who were previously hidden within their communities. We have established the Carers Worldwide Child Carer Emergency Fund to ensure that child carers such as Ramanjinamma can access the assistance they need , this includes:
- Provision of alternative care arrangements, so that child carers can re-enter school and have a break from caring
- Uniform, books and equipment to enable child carers to re-integrate and catch up on their missed education
- Upskilling and training local NGOs and community based services to offer specialist support to child carers
Friendship groups for children and young people to meet others in similar situations for emotional support and to socialise. Ramanjinamma is still caring for both her parents, but is in a much better position than she was previously thanks to generous donations towards our Child Carer Emergency Fund.
If you could make a single or regular gift, we will ensure that more young carers are supported.
Please visit our donation page to find out more.