Despite decades of reform, child labour continues across India. From making bangles to working as rag-pickers on rubbish dumps, a vast number of children continue to be forced to work which puts them at risk and stops them from following their ambitions.
Plan International’s Anti-Child Labour project, implemented in partnership with the Human Dignity Foundation and local partner Mahita, is working in Hyderabad, India to rescue and rehabilitate child labourers.
The project helps the children’s caregivers set up small businesses so they have enough money to send their children to school.
Thirteen-year-old Sarah’s mother worked as a rag-picker on a rubbish dump next to their house on the outskirts of Hyderabad. Due to her family’s struggles, Sarah was forced to work as a domestic servant from the age of 9, cleaning dishes, mopping the floor and washing clothes.
Now living with her grandmother after her mother’s mental health deteriorated, it took months of counselling to encourage her to go to school. Her grandmother was given a loan so she could set up a small shop, make a living and pay for Sarah’s education.
Twelve-year-old Prabhat used to work on Hyderabad's largest rubbish dump collecting and selling rubbish alongside his mother and siblings. "I used to jump over the wall or crawl through the fence, fill up my bag and sell it. I would do this every day," he says.
However, Prabhat’s mother was able to start a snack shop with the loan she received. The money she earns means she can send her children to school. Prabhat is currently in a bridge school which is helping him catch up on his studies before he enters a mainstream school.
The bridge school, run by the National Child Rights Protection Centre, offers catch-up classes to former child labourers. Many of the children were introduced to the school by coordinators who work with Plan International on the outskirts of Hyderabad.
Seven-year-old Manikanta used to be a rag-picker. He lives in a slum opposite Hyderabad's rubbish dump and was rescued by project workers. He is now at the bridge school and is looking forward to starting mainstream education.
Yasmani’s son Uday was found rag-picking at the rubbish dump by project workers. Yasmani accepted a loan to expand her business and has now increased her income, allowing Uday to return to school.
In the 3 years it has been running, our Anti-Child Labour project has rescued almost 16,000 children from child labour and helped them go to school.
Photos by Ruhani Kaur.