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Empowering Children as Change Agents: Muskan Kumari's Journey to Transform the Mica Supply Chain

May 8th, 2023

Muskan Kumari, a 17-year-old girl from a Mica-dependent family in Koderma district, had witnessed the harsh reality of child labor in her community. Determined to make a difference, Muskan took the lead in organizing 48 children to form a vibrant Balmanch called ‘Gyan Balmanch,’ with the goal of promoting collective voices of children and securing their rights.

Muskan leading a child club session

Through her efforts, Muskan inspired her peers to learn best practices and ensured the continuity of school education. Her work did not go unnoticed as government officials and PRIs recognized her efforts. Terre des Hommes Netherlands, an international child rights organization, identified Muskan for her leadership skills and provided her with further training and learning opportunities.

The approach that Muskan and Terre des Hommes Netherlands implemented seeks to empower children by creating conducive conditions that enable them to learn and develop the confidence to approach and influence duty bearers to address their concerns. The activities carried out included nurturing a vibrant Balmanch, providing life skills and leadership training to leading members of the Balmanch, seeking the opinion of children on academic supplements for mobile libraries, providing opportunities for sharing and learning, and participating in national-level events.

By consolidating the empowerment process, children like Muskan are given the opportunity to sustain positive changes in their lives and influence others as "change agents." This innovative and participatory approach has created excitement and acceptance among children, families, and communities. The results have been outstanding, with children leading dignified lives and preventing children from working as laborers in Mica processing activities.

Ms. Sushma Devi, community-level staff of the Terre des Hommes Netherlands-supported project, children, representatives of Village Level Child Protection Committee (VLCPC), and School Management Committee (SMC) were the key implementers and collaborators of the project. The project addressed various Terre des Hommes Child-Centred Indicators (CCIs), such as child participation, gender mainstreaming, inclusion of children with disabilities, and minimum standards on alternative care.

Thanks to the efforts of Terre des Hommes Netherlands and its partners, children are now being empowered to become "change agents" and secure their rights. Muskan has moved on to form a ‘District Level Balmanch’ with participation from 28 Balmanch, a key step towards effecting systemic change. The approach taken by Muskan and Terre des Hommes Netherlands is cost-effective and replicable, and has the potential to make a significant impact on the lives of vulnerable children worldwide.

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