In India, many children are forced into finding work instead of going to school by their family’s situation. Terre des Hommes Netherlands believes that this is not right, and that children should have access to education and be empowered to realise their dream. Raju, 13, who was a former child miner, has developed himself to become a child rights advocate. Read more about his story.
In June 2016, Raju was working at Mica mounds in Podbhotko village, Jharkhand state of India. He was in grade 8th before he stopped going to the class regularly. His mother is a housewife and his father is a member of the school management committee. On the contrary, his father was always sober and spent family’s money on alcohol, letting his son drop out of school and find work.
Mica is an umbrella term for 37 minerals that are primarily used to give automotive paint and cosmetic products a glimmering, pearly sheen and equip electricity cables with a heat-resistant layer. In Jharkhand state, Mica is collected from open-cast mines.
An estimated 20,000 children work in the India mica mines. The country produces approximately one-quarter of the world’s total mica production. Children in the mica mines work under dangerous conditions - the collapse of mine and lung disease which is caused by breathing in dust.
In July 2016, Raju’s case was reported to the community activist against child labour, who was supported by Terre des Hommes Netherlands’ local partner in India. The activist went to Raju’s home and acquainted with his father. Raju’s teachers were also consulted about his absence from school.
Counsellings and responsible parenting methods were provided to Raju’s family and his father. With the supports from school authorities and teachers, Raju now is no longer working at Mica mounds and he attends school regularly.
Upon his return to school, he was nominated and elected to become the Head of Student Council. With his new title, Raju leads the child rights advocate group to conduct awareness campaigns on child friendly village and identify and withdraw other vulnerable children from working in the mine.
In the future, I want to work in a caregiving and life-saving profession as a doctor.