Since the beginning of the 2014 academic year, 30 students have been coming from their homes surrounding the brick kilns and traveling on transport provided by Lotus Outreach to school in the Bhanguri village in Hathin block. This past December our program manager Suraj delivered supplies to these students as he also heard from Sushil, one brilliant young student with a high view of education--
On December 16th with temperatures on an early winter day dipping way below average, these children of itinerant migrant laborers were very happy to receive winter sweaters, school bags and stationery. Amongst them were some very young children that braved the biting cold to attend school in the morning, but as always, were willing to come as they enjoy their days at school so much.
Among them was 12 years old Sushil, who has been attending school on Brick Kilns Buses regularly for the last four years. Sushil is very intelligent and serious about education. His teacher asked him to tell us his views about education and his future plans.
Sushil very enthusiastically told us, “I would have been making bricks today instead of coming to school if the transport was not available to children from brick kilns like myself.”
He also opined, “Education is very important for children as they are like animals without it.”
He further said, “Through my devoted teachers, along with formal education I am learning good manners and moral values at school.” He also told us in great detail about the road safety measures he has learned in the school during a campaign started by the Police Department in the State.
There are hundreds of parents of children in our program who have praised the efforts of Lotus Outreach. This program has made an indelible mark on the lives of hundreds of students vulnerable to child labor in the absence of the opportunities we have given them. Please keep supporting bright students like Sushil and give the gift of education!!
Many migrant child laborers in rural India are forced to work in brick kilns and fail to receive basic education. Lotus Outreach believes that education is not only a fundamental right, but the most powerful catalyst for human development. Fund this program to bring transportation, uniforms and tuition stipends to such families in need and take part in the universal gift of education!
Jaiveer’s story shows a migrant family that is both benefiting from our program and continually working hard to ensure education comes first above all else.
Jaiveer lived in the village Kothia near Aligarh in Uttar Pradesh with his wife and four daughters. He had no land or regular job and desperately needed income for his family. A contractor approached him and offered him work at a brick kiln in the Palwal district. Jaiveer was desperate for work to feed his family, but also concerned about his eldest daughter, Sonia, who was six years old and studying in first grade. He wanted to ensure his daughter not be deprived of school in a new, unknown place.
When he expressed his concern to the contractor, he was surprised at what he heard. He was told that Sonia would be enrolled in a government school and free and safe transport would also be provided by our program through the White Lotus Trust to attend school!
Jaiveer was thrilled to hear this and migrated to Palwal with his family two years ago. His daughter Sonia enrolled in the Bhanguri village government school. Sonia travels between home and school in a safe mini bus called Blossom Bus that our program provides and monitors.
Sonia in now in third grade and her younger sister Rachna also accompanies Sonia to school in the Blossom Bus to study in first grade. Sonia is an excellent student and has made many new friends at school. Although most girls in the area work at brick kilns after coming home from school, Jaiveer is working hard to ensure that Sonia, Rachna and his other daughters stay out of the kilns and study.
Jaiveer is happy and thanks White Lotus Trust and Blossom Bus donors for their big support without which his children could never have continued their studies. According to Jaiveer, his children would have inevitably entered the brick kilns to work as child laborers without such support.
Please support Scholarships for Child Laborers program! Just $20 is enough to cover a student’s fees for the whole year. Help many more families like Jaiveer’s avoid child labor and receive basic educational needs. Donate today!
The sweltering district of Mewat, India has 30 active brick kilns. Thousands of men, women and children labor here in conditions of indentured servitude every year. During the rainy season the kilns shut down, and most of the peoople migrate to other areas to find what work they can to provide for their families.
Sushil is one of the 28 students from the kilns who have stayed back with their families to continue schooling during the rainy season. None of these students was ever expecting schooling when their parents came to brick kilns from about one thousand kilometers away. Children like Sushil help their parents by working at the kilns, earning just a few extra cents a day.
Lotus Outreach’s Educational Scholarships for Child Laborers has made it possible for these children to stop working and attend school, despite the difficult conditions of their parents’ social caste. Because of the transportation, tuition support and school supplies provided by this program, 250 students annually are receiving perhaps their families’ first chance at a public education.
Now during the summer, the number of students is waning, to pick up again after the season has ended. A new change in Indian law, the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA), has created an employment opportunity which is fortunately giving families a chance to escape the slave-like conditions of the kilns. Under MNREGA, every rural person has the right to 100 days of employment and good wages working in their own home villages. We are expecting fewer people to return to the kilns after the summer.
Unfortunately, many families remain caught in an endless cycle of poverty and slave labor. Their children are employed as young as age 5, turning over bricks to dry them in the torrid climate. As they migrate frequently to find work, it is not possible to keep their children consistently enrolled in a school, and they therefore remain intergenerationally illiterate and impoverished.
Lotus Outreach is changing all this though, and the 28 students remaining behind for the rainy season is a testament to the families’ understanding that education is paramount to their liberation from poverty. For those families that are able, we create an opportunity to keep their children continuously educated.
Now our students are becoming the first literate people in their families, and with the skills they learn from a primary education will help to liberate their families from the bondage of their caste.
Thank you for supporting the Scholarships for Child Laborers program! Just $20 is enough to cover a student’s fees for the whole year. Please donate today!
IN THE SWELTERING HEAT OF THE INDIAN SUN, brick kiln workers stand ragged, knee-deep in water, bent over and hacking out clay bricks from wet mud. Nearby, kindergarten-age children break apart coal lumps to be loaded into impossibly hot clay kilns. None of the conditions are legal, but they are the status quo for millions of workers indentured to labor almost as slaves.
Kamlesh is the mother of eight children working at such a facility in Hathin, Haryana. Living and working at a brick kiln has not afforded Kamlesh’s family the ability to send their children to school. As a result, her oldest children are mostly uneducated, and will likely repeat the same path of servitude which their parents were forced to pursue. Such is the cycle of poverty.
Lotus Outreach is working to break the cycle of poverty by facilitating the education of hundreds of children of laborers each year! Our students receive a free school uniform, school bags, books, stationery, a free lunch, and safe bus transportation to their local school.
Transportation, Kamlesh tells us, was the main reason why her eldest children were unable to continue in education. Living at the brick kiln in a shack, the family was much too far from the district school, and the roads on which children must walk to get to school are full of peril. Huge trucks tear down the dirt roads, killing dozens of pedestrians each year. One crash last year killed 30 brick kiln workers, 12 of which were children, when the truck tore into the 2 minivans into which they were packed.
Kamlesh’s own first born son was killed in a road accident. Even if just transportation were not an issue, education would still be far out of reach. The cost of uniforms, materials, food, and the opportunity-cost of losing the pittance of income generated by their children’s labor makes so many families choose not to continue their children in school.
The supportive services of Lotus Outreach are changing all of that! Kamlesh’s three youngest children, two daughters and a son are now enrolled in primary school. She says, “I hope that my son can become a clerk and that my daughters will marry into a decent family, and not have to work from dawn until midnight at the kiln.”
Your donation can emancipate these children from a lifetime of hard labor! Just $40 covers the cost of safe, bus transportation for a student for the entire year!
So far in this year we have 100 students enrolled and receiving scholarships and support. Some 30 families have already committed to stay in the area through the monsoon season, forgoing the meager temptation of more work in the south so that their children can remain consistently in school and receive the full benefit of the program. This choice would be impossible without the support this vital program.
In 2013 we provided services to 250 brick kiln kids, busing them to the schools, supporting them with materials and even extra tutoring, and persuading their migrant families to remain in one place so their children can pursue education. Escape from poverty without literacy, without basic numeracy is all but impossible. With your support we are paving the way for the next generation to succeed.
First of all, we would like to say thank you for all your support in helping Lotus Outreach provide scholarships and a better future for the child laborers in Mewat, India. We are breaking a trend of children dropping out of school and joining their parents on a lifetime of grueling, unhealthy work at the brick kilns in rural India.
Since the program started in 2008, every year we have been able to successfully enroll and support more than 200 kids. As seen in the table below, overall there has been a decrease in the number of children supported by the program. This is a reflection of a decrease in the number of migrant labors coming to work in Mewat’s brick kilns because of improving conditions and labor opportunities in their home states. We have good reasons to be hopeful that those parents who remained in their home states, and whose children have been through our program, are carrying on their commitment to their children’s education and making sure they complete their studies. One of the principle components of the scholarship program is education advocacy - encouraging parents to be supportive as possible in their child’s education as a means to ensure a better future for them. A study by Poverty Action Lab at MIT has shown that giving parents information on the benefits of education, such as higher wages earned by graduates, is the most cost effective approach to increasing children’s school years: for every U$100 spent in advocating for education there are 20 added years of student participation in return.
It’s been very reassuring for us that teachers from schools attended by children of brick kiln labors have been very supportive in making sure that the children get a proper education. Echoing the sentiment of his colleagues, teacher Rajinder Anand tells us, “These children are more sincere and regular in classes. And they are better learners than the average village child.”
Most of the children are able to attend school in their native villages during the monsoon months only because the scholarship program helps them attend school in Mewat through the rest of the year. Through the years we have seen that these migrant laborers would not be able to send their children to Mewat’s local schools or for that matter to their native village schools without the program’s support. Even more encouraging, one tenth of parents choose not to return to their native villages, but instead stay in Mewat during the monsoon months so that their children will not miss any school.
Looking ahead we hope that we can continue to instill in the parents a strong sense of commitment to their children’s education. Seeing the benefits extend beyond the program’s reach in Mewat is testament to the power of extending a helping hand to these children. None of this would have been possible without your support! So on behalf of all the children who can now envision a brighter, healthier future because of your generosity, we at Lotus Outreach extend to you a big warm thank you!
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