Lokadrusti experience with Children of the Migrant Parents

Nuapada district, carved  by way of bifurcation from Kalahandi district in 1993 is often know for a  number of  wrong reasons. Being one of the 100 most backward districts of  the country this is also ill-reputed for its  regular drought,  child sale and distress migration. This district is geographically divided into three zone; the western fringe of  the district beginning from Nangalbod in Sinapali Block to Godhas in Nuapada Block through Kathphar plateau of  Boden and Sunabeda plateau of Komna  ( Also a wild life sanctuary) is covered with the forest and shares common boundary with Chhatisgarh state. This area has predominantly a forest based economy with barter system prevalent in certain degree. This zone is neglected in all respect; may it  be  communication, employment provisions , education or administrative intervention. Most of the people are tribal and  some primitive tribal groups such as  Paharia ( officially not yet declared as  even ST)  and  Chuktia Bhunjia live in this region. As it remained in the administrative  shadow zone this has become the safe heaven for the  Maoists.

The Second category of villages are in the valley  area where  there is the prevalence of  land based and some off farm activities. But due to infertile land and lack of  irrigation people remain largely neglected. This area is also dominated by  ST and SC . The third category of village are it the plain area where people remain engaged in agricultural and some   Petty income generating activities. OBC are the  dominant social category it this  region. But due to lack of irrigation potential and marginalization of small and marginal farmers  agriculture  no more remains  a viable option.

Nuapada district experiences drought or drought like situation almost every year. Due to factors such as restriction of usufruct right, lack of employment opportunities at  the appropriate time people use to migrate to the states such as Andhra Pradesh, TamilNadu etc. to  work in the brick industry . They work under the  worst possible condition and are treated  inhumanly at the  worksite. It  may appear incredible, but is true  that these labouerers now in  thousands remain invisible in the  government record.

Pathuria system of  Labour

The most unfortunate part of this labour  trafficking  is that there is demand for family migration at the brick industry for obvious reasons. This is called  pathuria system which is a work unit comprising a man , a woman and 1 to 2 children in the age group of 6-14. Advance is given to them on this basis which virtually means  children form an important component of  distress migration in Nuapada district. In the brick kiln there are specified works for them such as   arranging and flipping the  raw and semidried bricks, make balls of wet mud. They are preferred for such work due to their light weight. As per the  study of the district administration of Nuapada in the year 2008 out of the total migrant population  12.66% are from the school going age and  another  10.41% are infants. This means 23% of the migrants are child population.The study again highlighted that 88% of the migration are distress migration.

Children remain away from their village/school for a period of more than six month beginning from  October/November to early part of June. So they suffer from the following problems:-

  • They become dropout from school.
  • Many of them become  never enrolled due to  regular migration.
  • They undergo physical problem and mental  trauma.
  • They  fail to cope up with the study, become slow in study  leading to deficit learning.
  • They are deprived of their child like sensitivity.

It is  seen that at the work site the boys and girls  have to work the same number of  hours as their parents. They suffer the same verbal and physical  abuse as adults do. There are terrible instances in this regard. Once a girl was trying  to make her younger brother shivering  with fever, get up because she was  unable to carry all the  bricks to the kiln, under the threat of the supervisor. Children suffer from respiratory, stomach, eye and skin problems along with water related diseases. Many children become knock kneed. Accident due to burns are very common which  cause disability and even death but completely ignored by employers. Girls and women are very much exposed to sexual abuse.

Our approach towards migrant children:-

  • To bring migrant children    (6-14 years) in to the School net through opening of seasonal hostel.
  • To provide children a healthy and secured living      ( away from the hazardous atmosphere of brick kilns).
  • To provide educational facilities to migrant children, improve their  education standard and fulfill the RTE norms.
  • To enhance quality of learning among the migrant children and help them reach 10th standard .

To create an enabling environment for community participation in running of  seasonal hostel  and  involvement in  school development .

Lokadrusti Initiative

Way back in 2004 Lokadrusti initiated a very practical  approach to address this issue of  child migration. In the 1st phase of our intervention Lokadrusti started with  Seven seasonal hostels in seven most migration prone villages  in  Khariar Block with the American Indian Foundation(AIF) New-Delhi. Even if it was  difficult to  convince the parents to  leave their school going children in such hostels we could save 193 children ( 124 boys and 69 girls) from  certain migration. The BDO and the concerned S.Is. Of School inaugurated the Seasonal hostel and were moved and convinced by the Lokadrusti approach. The seasonal hostel were running in existing Govt. school of respective villages. We had to take the  support of the village SHGs, school teacher, S.I.s of school, PRI members etc. in our endeavor.

Up scaling/ Replication

This seasonal Hostel approach started on pilot basis in 2004 became a successful model for the DPEP/SSA and after visiting the Lokadrusti run hostels they were convinced. During 2005 DPC and the staff of SSA  visited our project area and witnessed our approach and discussed with the VEC and children at different seasonal hostels . Subsequently Lokadrusti facilitate DPC Nuapada along with SSA staffs to Hyderabad to see the migration scenario and the problem of children face at brick kiln.  In this year Lokadrusti replicated this model in  16 villages of  Khariar and Sinapali Block with the support of  AIF and SSA, Nuapada. In these  hostels 546 children ( 319 boys and 227 girls) were  accommodated. SSA Nuapada also  managed 3 such  hostels  directly through BRCC  in Sinapali Block. The seasonal hostels are called Residential Care Centre (RCC) by the SSA authority. Another  important addition was the bridge  course which was arranged after the seasonal hostels were over. This was to mainstream those school going children whom we could not address and who had migrated with their parents. This successful model became an  accepted norm and  other NGOs also  opened such residential hostels for migrant children. Lokadrusti with the support of AIF , SSA gradually  up scaled this to more number of villagers of  the  district and during the period 2004-2012 it has successful saved 4671 children ( 3032 boys and 1634 girls) from dropping out from school and joining the  labour force. In addition to this 2153 number of  migrant children have been mainstreamed through bridge course and continue in their  respective village Govt. school. Due to fund constraint Lokadrusti reduce the number of seasonal hostel over the year. In course of time we innovated and promoted the care giver system ( community based support system)  to keep the children in the  village to continue their education in village school and restrain them from migration to hazardous sites of brick kilns. This innovative  approach is so as to involve the  community and there by create a  sustainable model. Since Lokadrusti has grass root base and rapport it indentified the close relatives of such parents who migrate. Then they were convinced to keep such  children during the migration of their parents. They are used to be called  Care Givers and the most important aspect is their emotional attachment with the children. This  approach also sensitizes both the parents migrating and the  Care Givers and the emotional and  physical vacuum of the children in the  absence of their parents. This may work as a deterrent for the parents  to migrate any more. In 2010 -11  we kept  425 children(230 boys and 195 girls) with the Care Givers which increased to 732 ( 396 boys and 336 girls) in 2011-12. The Lokadrusti approach towards migrant children has become successful and  during the  last three years students from these RCC/ Seasonal Hostels have passed the HSC examination with merit  and many have been enrolled in the  colleges .

Lokadrusti use to maintain a  migration register in each project village to know the migration trend. In addition to this  we also  help the community  to draw social map  around the neighborhood (catchment area) of the school and identify migration sensitive household by marking  on map. And this is followed by child tracking register  maintained at community level.

Achievements of the  project intervention

•From 2004 to 2012 we could able to open 168 seasonal hostels in different migration prone villages of Nuapada district and restrained the migration of  4671 children.
•During the reporting period  three batches of children  passed out   HSC with merit . The following table given details of that.
  • Lokadrusti has been able to develop community support system to keep the children  in home based care  during their parents migration. During  last three years 1157 children(626 Boys & 531 Girls) has been  kept at the Care Givers home.
  • Earlier they were taking away their children on migration. It was difficult to convince them to leave back their children. But today they voluntarily bring their children to the RCC before migration. They are convinced on the role of RCC.
  • Dropout rate has been reduced due to RCC and the bridge course.
  • The government schools in those villages where RCC are run have been strengthened due to the impact of RCC.
  • The community is actively involved and this has sensitized the community and present SMC to incorporate the issue of  migration and provision for seasonal hostel and bridge(age appropriate) courses in their respective School Development Plan(SDP).
  • The  earlier VEC and present SMC is also involved in the RCC. This has activated them to play their role in the functioning of the existing government schools too.
  • The children of the RCC are performing better than the children of the existing schools due to remedial classes etc. This is encouraging the school children to raise their performance on par with the inmates of RCC.
  • Looking at the problem of regular migration of children under Pathria system Lokadrusti started learning enrichment programme with the support of AIF  in migration prone villages of Nuapada district from the year 2009-10 and we were able to give learning support to  deficit learning children from migration sensitive households. Till end of June 2012 we could cover 11594 number of  children.


Difficulties/ Challenges :-

Migration and child migration is not an isolated or stray  incident. We  have to accept that this is a regular phenomenon which is increasing every year. In running seasonal hostels we  find it  difficult to  accommodate children and given them a  comfortable  stay in the existing village government school. In many of the schools there is no electricity and  water supply. Therefore it is  required that there should be proper identification of migration prone households and  their children should be kept at a place, may be at the G.P head quarter. We must create a  permanent  shelter for  children of  migrant parents with all basic facilities. We always encounter dearth of fund and looking at the magnitude of migration our approach  intervention becomes limited . There is need to  replicate and upscale it. In order to  ensure more coverage and wriggle out of  fund shortage we have  innovated the system of  Care Givers. But given the economic condition of such household it appears like an extra Borden for them. So government sponsored migration shelter is a viable alternative. The  government must take  initiative  and Lokadrusti with its experience can give the support of training, capacity building etc.

            Still there is a lot  to do to change the mindset of the government functionaries. We find it difficult to convince them about the  ugly face of distress migration and the trauma the children face.




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