One principle of Terre des Hommes Netherlands is that children should have a childhood where they can learn, play, and grow. In certain environments, some children do not have this opportunity due to poverty, which were further intensified by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Suku is a 15-year-old girl from a small village in the state of Jharkhand, India. Due to poverty and lack of opportunities, her parents relied on daily wage labour in the mining sector. It is a hazardous work where they collect and process mica, a material that is often found in vehicles, electronic, and beauty products. In order to survive and make ends meet, Suku’s parents had to rely on their children’s support. Suku and along with her two other siblings became child labourers and discontinued their education.
Terre des Hommes staff continue to work on understanding these issues and identifying different ways to support children and their communities. They found out about Suku’s situation after coordinating with a school to see which children needed educational support during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Suku’s parents were provided with counselling about child rights and agricultural training for their small farm. By learning about how hazardous labour can affect their children’s well-being and future, they stopped their children in mica mining and processing. By successfully building their skills in vegetable and staple food crop cultivation, Suku’s parents can provide food for their children and also sell their produce.
Through this process, Suku and her siblings were encouraged to continue their education and be involved in a child club to freely share their experiences and concerns. Suku added, “I am very happy to continue my education. My parents have also bought books and supported private lessons. It was important for me to be part of a child club to learn from other children’s experiences, which also provided me access to online academic sessions. I am thankful to TdH NL for the guidance and building my confidence to continue my education”.
Through programmes related to stopping child labour in India by Terre des Hommes, parents and children can learn from each other within their communities. Along with Suku’s family, 21 other families were supported and placed into self-help groups that receive training on alternative income building. “It was painful to engage my children in Mica collection activities but there was no other option. We were worried about the future of our children. It was a great opportunity to receive training and support to enhance our family income”, said Suku’s mother.