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“The second most common problem people call with is physical abuse and then child marriage, child begging and missing children.”

In the ChildLine office in Thodupuzha, Mr. Scaria and four coworkers gather at a table to discuss strategy and response. Call volume grows at a rate of 20 to 25 percent a year — not necessarily reflecting a growth of problems on the ground, he says, as much as an increasing willingness of women and children to speak up.

In terms of residential care, the government runs 25 dormitories that offer children and youth from remote or abusive home environments space to live and complete school.

The lion’s share of residential care consists of a network of 1,107 residential schools for children run by NGOs and church groups, a number that has been growing steadily over the past four decades, partly due to education initiatives led by the Catholic Church.

“It is sad for us sisters to see the moment of separation when the children come here to study,” says Daughter of Mary Sister Mary Abraham, who administers St. Joseph’s Home for Children in Pallanad, about 30 minutes from Marayoor. It houses 125 girls and boys ages 6 to 9.

“However, within a few weeks, we see the children settle and really excel in their newfound stability.”

“My parents sent me here because my village has no school — only a nursery,” says 9-year-old Satheesh Panbiraj, who has attended St. Joseph’s for three years.

Satheesh, born in the village of Tamalakuri, is one of the many children at St. Joseph’s belonging to Adivasi (or tribal) communities that enjoy special protection from the government of India. People from 35 recognized tribes make up 5 percent of the population of Kerala. They live on reservations designed to protect their unique cultures from destruction through exposure to the surrounding dominant culture.

Adivasi tend to emphasize manual labor and subsistence, leading to poor school attendance rates.

“Every morning before I start class, I go to each house in the village that has a child in school and coax that child to come to school with me,” says Marie Kutty Magalasseril, 38, the primary school teacher in the remote village of Vallakkallu, some 15 miles away from Marayoor by cross-country trek.

“If I don’t do that, many of these children just won’t show up in class.”

Ms. Magalasseril uses other strategies to increase attendance, including offering sweets as a reward at the end of class and promising to play games during class time.

In addition to cultural apathy toward formal education, schools in tribal villages face severe resource limitations. Ms. Magalasseril is the only teacher in the school, for example, and the children have neither desks nor seats; class takes place with everyone seated on the floor. The school in the village provides education only up to age 9 and the nearest school available to older students lies 20 miles away. To access it, students are obliged to move, either to government-run residences or to a children’s home such as St. Joseph’s.

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