Mohsin’s school bag is his prized possession. And why wouldn’t it be? Till the year 2013, Mohsin was a child labourer at a book binding unit. At an age where he was supposed to read books, he used to carry piles of books tirelessly all day long.
Mohsin, 12, longed to learn to read the books he carried, he wanted to play like the other children but the financial conditions at home hindered his freedom. Mohsin comes from a family of eleven. He has five brothers and three sisters. His father suffers from Asthma and hence can’t provide for the family. His mother does odd jobs for an income.
Many families do not understand the importance of education. They send their children to work assuming their efforts can help sustain the family. But little do they know that this will only bring a temporary relief and that poverty is there to stay!
In 2013, World Vision India began the Meerut Child Labour Project. The programme facilitated the operation of Child Care Centres which identified children who were not going to school and engaged them for two hours in the centre each day.
Children in the Child Care Centre are counselled, assessed and attempts are made to take them out of labour. The staff of the project visit the families regularly to explain the importance of education to them. At the centre, the children are also taught basics of subjects. After a year, once the child is ready, he or she is enrolled in school with support from World Vision India. Post this, World Vision India’s Child Tuition Centres serve as an auxiliary support to children who go to school.
Mohsin went to the Child Care Centre in 2013. In 2014, he was enrolled in school and since then Mohsin has been able to see the transformational change in his life. He feels healthier and happier, he has more time to spend with his friends; more time to just be the child he is.
“Now, all I wish is for bicycle; a red one. Some of my friends have their own mobile phones, but I don’t want one because I don’t know how to use it”, says Mohsin innocently.
Child labour is lethal for a child as it limits his or her possibilities and capabilities. Education gives the child a gift of choice; the choice of a better life in a more inclusive world.
“When I grow up, I want to be a police officer!”, Mohsin says with his eyes sparkling. ” I want to run fast and catch all the thieves. But, I want to finish studying first. Without going to school, I will not become a good police officer.”, he adds.
To tackle the issue of meagre income, World Vision India provides livelihood assistance to families through Economic Development Assistance (EDA) by providing sewing machines, buffaloes etc. The project has facilitated the formation of 51 Self Help Groups (SHGs) in the area and provided 109 child labour families with EDA so that low income doesn’t become an obstacle for the child’s education.
Families are also linked to various services such as Government Schemes for daily wage labourers. So far, 1309 families have got their labour cards and the project was able to register 381 widows who could avail their pension through Government schemes. “Even if there is no money in the house, I will still send Mohsin to school. I will never stop his education.”, says Kanij, Mohsin’s mother. “He smiles more often now, he is happier, I want a good life for my child”, she adds.
“I really like my life now!”, concludes Mohsin.