About the Founder

CCRD Founder S Thomas Jayaraj

Commemorating Life and Contribution of Mr. S. Thomas Jayaraj
“Towards a world fit for children”

Senior Child Rights Activist Mr. S. Thomas Jayaraj is the founder and First Director of the Centre for Child Rights and Development (CCRD). He was born on 7th November 1957 and raised in Chennai.

Over the last four decades, Mr. Thomas has worked in the forefront of several child rights interventions in the State as well as at the national level.

Centre for Child Rights and Development

CCRD emerged as a brain child of Mr. Thomas along with his close associates is an organisation based at Chennai was established in the year 1998 “Mr. Thomas was one of the first persons in the country to start an organisation that had child rights in its name because he found that organizations were not profoundly working for the rights of the children. He was extremely dedicated to the cause and was actively involved in both working for it at the ground level and in policy making,”

Mr. Thomas gained a deeper understanding to intensify the existing Campaign, Advocacy and Social Mobilization initiatives in Tamil Nadu to promote and protect children’s rights. Further and most importantly he made sure that CCRD has the goodwill and support of more than 100

NGOs organisations spread across different districts of Tamil Nadu and at the national level too. He had good rapport with academic institutions, government agencies, UN organisations like ILO, UNICEF and held leadership positions in important campaigns & networks both at the state level and national level to implement programmes towards ensuring the “best interest of children”.

Networking and Campaign

Campaign Against Child Labour

Mr. Thomas was one of the earliest state conveners of Campaign Against Child Labour (CACL) that ensured a unique positioning among civil society networks.

In the year 2004, Mr. Thomas Jayaraj was one of the members in the High Level Committee constituted by the Madras High Court on Inquiry into the Status of bonded labourers in the Rice Mills of Thiruvallur districts.

Mr. Thomas Jayaraj played an instrumental role in CACL-TN to draft Alternative Comprehensive legislation – The Child Labour System (Abolition, Prevention and Rehabilitation) Bill 2017 – Prohibiting all forms of Child Labour up to the age of 18 years. This was also posted to all members of (MP’s) Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha.

On behalf of CACL, Mr. Thomas Jayaraj presented Child Labour in Tamil Nadu – Progress, Challenges and the Way Forward in the Technical session on Leave No One Behind was organized by State Planning Commission held on 14th November 2019 at Chennai. He had used this opportunity to influence the State, since all the Secretaries representing various departments from Government of Tamil Nadu including the Chief Secretary were present in this meeting.

TamilNadu Child Rights Watch

Mr. Thomas initiated League for Child Rights and then it was renamed as TamilNadu Child Rights Protection Network. When UNICEF initiated the formation of TamilNadu Child Right Observatory, Mr. Thomas was instrumental bringing civil society movements together. He envisioned

TNCRO as an apex network of campaigns and networks for child rights in the state. In realizing his values he dreamt of bringing these two different networks under one banner and Tamil Nadu Child Rights Watch (TNCRW) emerged in 2020. Paving way for next generation leadership he took over the mantle as State Co-convenor, leaving the lead role to Mr. Andrew Sesuraj. M as the convener.

Encouraging Volunteerism

Mr Thomas believed in cadre building for community level child rights monitoring. He was consistently encouraging and promoting several students of Social Work, Law and Younger child rights activists to work at the ground level with concerns regarding child rights. Apart from conducting annual trainings for students on Child Rights, he continued to provide mentorship for them when they take up issues to the next level of activism and care.

Community Child Protection Mechanisms

A Community based Child Protection Mechanism is the only way to ensure a community fit for children. He encouraged and capacitated community volunteers and leaders on effectively monitoring and enhancing child rights situation in their respective communities. As a result village child protection committees were formed in more than 15 villages and they were motivated to get federated to block level for better advocacy and solidarity for children. His dream of moving to the next level of federating them at district level is the priority of CCRD Team now.

NextGen CCRD

As a visionary, Mr. Thomas always believed in handing over the mantle to the next generation. Over years he consistently communicated through his actions by identifying emerging leaders in the organization, ensured that they are adequately given space for manifesting their leadership and getting capacitated.

Life and Dream

A society that is child friendly, a family that cares for the child, schools that empowers and motivates children in a friendly manner and a society for every child to live, prosper and participate is a dream Mr. Thomas lived and worked for. He followed the principles of Equality, Love, Respect and Trust with all fellow human beings. The life of Mr. Thomas had always been a celebration of rights, a celebration of civil society activism, and a celebration of human interactions.