In a quiet village of Bhuja in southern Rajasthan, 14 year old Payal and her younger brother managed to stay back in school despite several pressures to get engaged in child labour following their father’s untimely death
Payal comes from the Bhil community, a predominant tribal community in Rajasthan that are most disadvantaged based on their economic, social and literacy conditions. With 222 families below poverty line (BPL) in a village of 300 households
Bhulia villagers say that a few years ago, some child labourers died in the fields due to exhaustion and snake bites
The problem of child labour is deep-rooted in Bhuja village which has turned into a fertile ground for recruiting under-age workers for the cotton-picking season in Gujarat
Grassroot workers from NGO Mahan Seva Sansthan (MSS) along with the anganwadi worker contacted Payal’s mother, the 40 year old Mandika Devi, mother of five children and a maize and wheat farmer
“We informed her about the palanhaar scheme for Payal. I filled out the form myself for her as she is not literate,” informs Meera Devi, anganwadi worker and teacher
Thanks to the intervention, Payal and the other four children receiving education have not had to lose out on their childhood to be forced into child labour. Meera believes that education is the only way to improve conditions in the community and generate consciousness among members to prioritize their well-being
At the Rajkiya Prathmik Vidyalaya school, Kalu studies hard and also enjoys playing with his classmates. Payal, on the other hand, has been registered at a residential school for girls
Bhulia villagers say that a few years ago, some child labourers died in the fields due to exhaustion and snake bites. The community has since joined hands and conducted surprise vehicle checks to ensure children are not being taken by contractors to Gujarat for manual work.
For Payal, her entitlement from the palanhaar scheme for a monthly one thousand rupees till 18 years of her age has enabled her to secure an education for herself. Now she can pursue her dream of becoming a policewoman and aspire for a bright future.