Children working at a brick kiln in Mewat
“My name is Geeta and I have three children, Madhuri (8), Madhu (6) and Ajit (5). All three are now going to Malhokhra Primary School in Mewat, India. My family migrated here from Aligarh in Uttar Pradesh to Malokhra village in Hathin to work at local brick kilns, as we do not get regular work at home.
We all work more than 16 hours every day to earn two meals for the family. Lotus Outreach recently motivated us to send our children to local schools and they provided uniforms, shoes, school bags, etc. We sent Madhuri and Madhu (plus my niece) to school reluctantly, as it may lead to loss of earnings because we now have fewer hands making bricks, but the children were excited by the gifts and insisted that they be allowed to enroll.
My five year-old son Ajit is now accompanying his siblings to school even though he is not enrolled. I am told that he can be enrolled next year when he will be six. The children are very happy to go to school and don’t mind walking more than one kilometer to get there. The teachers are also good and our children are learning good things.
My whole family is very happy that we decided to send the children to school. My husband says that we are earning a little less but we are investing in our children in the long-term. Once educated, our children will become an asset for us and not a liability. Maybe my children will get good education and learn skills which can help them get work at their home town so they don’t have to migrate like we do.
We are sometimes worried about our children as they are crossing a busy road to reach school. The children are also going alone. I raised this concern with people from Lotus Outreach and they suggested that one person from the brick kiln accompany the children to drop them off at school. There are about 30 children from nine families going to school from our brick kiln and one father/mother can accompany the children on a rotation basis. We will discuss this with the nine families and will do what is required for the safety of our children.
We go back to our native place during monsoons as the brick kilns are closed during this season and when we come back, we generally go to a different brick kiln for work and this can create a problem for our children. This time we have decided that we will not shift the brick kiln so that our children are not forced to drop out of school.”
We have included a link to a video clip showing these children proudly donning their new uniforms and backpacks and leaving the kilns to attend school for the first time in their lives. Madhuri in particular has taken a lot of interest in his studies and recently told Lotus Outreach, “I want to stay in school rather than go home to my native village during the monsoon season. Please ask my parents not to leave this place so I can continue attending! I like my teachers and love playing with the other children at school".
We thank you for your continued support, which allows us to keep over 700 Indian child laborers just like these in school!
Geeta and family