At 6 am when the rooster crowed, Rinku* woke up. Feeling dull, she freshened up and stepped out for her day’s work. The gloom not wearing off, she walked miles with her head pointed to the ground. She stopped when she heard the sound of clanks. She arrived at the mica mine and she had to begin the day’s lifting and digging. On her way back, she tightly clutched the seven rupees that she earned. Everyday was the same.
“I started this work when I was 10-years-old. I was very irregular at school”, said Rinku. She did not have any friends and was too scared to talk to anyone. She was lonely, sad, and did not see any purpose to her life.
Two years later, the same Rinku, now 15-years-old, received a round of applause from her friends. She had successfully stopped two child marriages. Her confident strides made her family proud.
“If someone came to speak to Rinku, she would run the other direction”, said her aunt. “Now she is so bold, she speaks up for the rights of children”, she added delightfully.
This transformation in Rinku did not happen overnight. It was the hard work and the dedication of Dheena, a social worker of Terre des Hommes Netherlands in India, that made it possible.
Rinku was registered under the mica programme of TdH NL that works to rescue the victims of child labour from mica mines. As part of the programme, she was encouraged to join a Children’s Club or Balmanch where along with other children, she was trained on child rights, leadership, communication, and other crucial life skills.
“Dheena ji (a facilitator of the child clubs) made me feel comfortable and after a few sessions, I told him all about my difficulties and challenges. He gave me courage, taught me so much, and opened my life to great possibilities”, said Rinku. “My inner change made my parents stop me from working. I am now regular to school. I want to be a doctor”, she added.