Stories of Change

The ripple effect of ATGs projects in fighting child labour and making Jharkhi village child labour free

Jharki is village situated at the bottom of the hill in Koderma district, Jharkhand. The village is surrounded by dense forest and mica mines. The livelihood of this village is completely based on Mica, but the community stands vulnerable in terms of their health, education of children, livelihood and child labour situation. The gravest situation is of the children in this village who are either engaged in mica collection or engaged in other forms of child labour. Coming from a poor socio economic background, the living conditions of the families and children is vulnerable. The average weekly income of each household is only INR 1000 which is insufficient to feed a family with proper nutrition. The children in order to suffice for their family’s earning enter into child labour in mica collection work and lack behind in education, suffer from health and nutrition problems.

ATG started working in this area in January 2018. The team met with village Gram Pradhan or the Mukhiya and then formed 3 SHGs- Laxmi SHG, Gulab SHG and Saraswati SHG. Initially, it was difficult but gradually, ATG with its devoted team managed to initiate the SHG by capacitating the women on book keeping, management skills, leadership, etc. Credit linkages were formed and support was rendered to 3 SHGs of INR 5500 each.

The idea was to see a ‘rippling effect’ of the interventions undertaken in the village to eradicate child labour. This was only possible by building rapport with the community members; bring women at a common platform by the establishment of SHGs and supporting them to build better livelihood for themselves

The farmers in this village did agriculture to some extent. ATG saw this as a stepping stone to move up in the ladder of ‘new and better ways in farming’. Initially, ATG provided agri-tech support for two Kharif cash crops- Brinjal and Tomato. 35 SHG women were brought on board for cultivating the two crops in their different fragments of land, totalling to 320 decimal of land to earn an ideal income. A pilot on mushroom cultivation was also initiated under the same project with 2 farmers which showed great results.

The community had by now became confident working with ATG and was ready to take up actions to improve their livelihoods and status of living. ATG realised, this to be the best time to sensitize and aware the community on not sending their children at mica work instead send them to schools and promote education.

Challenges came through, due to lack of proper road connectivity and transport facilities and inaccessibility during rains. In spite of regular monitoring some children were still not able to attend schools or engaged at work before and after school. ATG did not take its step backwards. The team approached the PWD department and forest department officials and pushed for construction of new roads. Rallies were organised within communities for child labour eradication as part of the sensitization process.

Unbelievably, today out of 41 target group children, 38 children are attending school. Their households are engaged in alternative livelihood through agriculture, earning better, developed savings and investing in for their children’s education, health, etc. The earning have improved from INR 1000 to INR 7000-11000. The school authorities are immensely proud and happy with the project.

In the words of the school headmasters – “Children are now regular in schools as compared to previous days, ATG kept their promises”.

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