When you are a family in an extremely poor community, involving the children in labour might be the only option. For Devi (a mother of three), her family relied on her three children’s support in collecting mica scraps. A practice that is illegal and dangerous, with little financial benefit due to illegal traders and low prices.
In Devi’s village in Jharkhand, India, reliance on the mica industry as a source of income is common. Along with her neighbours, children are often irregular or inactive in their academics especially during the COVID-19 pandemic which resulted in many educational institutions being shut down.
Devi and her husband do not have many options to provide for their family. Her husband is a daily-wage labourer while she takes care of the children at home. They have a small plot of land for farming but it is not enough for the local market. Due to their economic situation, they are provided with some support by the government such as provision of dry ration.
“It was very difficult for the survival of my family due to very little income from mica collection. The lockdown made it worse due to further reduced income opportunity”, Devi said.
Families such as Devi’s are the focus of Terre des Hommes Netherlands in the Koderma District of Jharkhand, India. Without income opportunities for parents, children cannot pursue their education but rather, be involved in labour. TDHNL identified Devi’s family, along with 13 other poverty-stricken families, to be involved in a program to improve their other sources of income.
Through the formation of a “Self-Help Group”, Devi was given the opportunity to discuss her issues and to receive feedback and training to solve it. With training and financial support, she and her husband learned and improved their vegetable cultivation and goat rearing. Due to their perseverance, they are now able to provide for their children and bring them out of the mines to continue their education.
Devi said, “I am very happy to be able to afford the tuition fees of private tutors so that my children can continue their learning during school closures due to COVID-19. I love to see my children being joyfully engaged with their peers in Balmanch activities. Thanks to TDHNL for the support and helping my family have an assured source of income through goat rearing and establishing a homestead that provides nutritious vegetables''.