Sushil shows everyone he can read!
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!
The simple classroom of these admirable children.