Rajat is 12 years old and lives in India. A few weeks ago he still got up at six o'clock every day. He washed his face and brushed his teeth. Then he took his pick and hammer. Together with his brothers he went to the mine to collect mica. Rajat had been doing this for six years, about seven to eight hours a day.
Rajat wanted to go to school, but his parents couldn't afford it. They had no choice but to let him work. The few pennies an hour that that yielded were indispensable. The work in the mine was not only heavy, but also very unhealthy and life-threatening.
Many of the products we use daily contain mica. Children chop this mineral out of the rocks by hand. This releases harmful substances that can lead to deadly lung diseases. Many accidents also happen. For example, Rajat was injured three times during work: "Once a large piece of stone fell on top of me. When I felt my head, there was a lot of blood on my fingers. In the hospital I was treated for five days."
The demand for the 'miracle mineral' mica is high. It is a material that isolates well and is heat-resistant. That's why it is used a lot in our cars and electronic devices. And because mica can make something shiny, it also ends up in cosmetics and paint, for example.
In remote areas with a lot of poverty, cutting mica is often the only way to earn some money. The children are forced to work under miserable conditions so that the family can survive. Did you know that in the region where Rajat lives alone, more than 22,000 children work in the mica industry?
These children literally and figuratively disappear into the mines: they don't go to school and have no chance to escape poverty.
We can only stop child labour if everyone helps. So besides the children and their families, Terre des Hommes also involves schools, governments and companies. Together we work on 'child-friendly' villages: villages where children go to school, where there is no child labour and where the parents earn enough to support their families.
That this broad approach works, we proved last year: in the Indian region of Jharkhand more than 8,398 children went (back) to school! Good news for children like Rajat and his brothers. Finally they get a real chance for a better future.
Now we want to persevere. There are about 60 child friendly villages in this region. Do you want to help make 100 villages out of this in 2021? Together we'll ensure that thousands of children are protected and can go back to school.
Stop child exploitation. Join our fight!