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The school doesn’t open because the teachers don’t arrive on the day of reopening!

by Sumit Singh

Lalati is one of the backward hamlets in Boda Village, Batauli Block. Connectivity to this village is very difficult, because the nearest bus stop is 8-10 kms away. There is no other mode of transport available in this village; normally people walk for 2-3 hours to reach next village or bus stop. Majority population belongs to Uraon and Korba in this hamlet.

I had visited this place thrice between 12th June -30th June, luckily there is a primary and middle level school in the village. But not once did I see children studying in these schools. According to Ministry of Human Resource Development (HRD), all the schools should be re-opened by 10th – 20th June. The teachers had still not returned from their leave! As June-end is sowing period for rice, and most of the child work on their fields or work as labour to earn some money.

You could easily find child working in brick kiln 2-3 kms away from village and road construction work. Most of the girls take care of all the household work from a very early age and most girls drop out between 12 and 15 years. Children are also married off very soon.

I meet Sitaram Tirki on 13th June, 2014 for the first time, this was my first recce visit to this village. In my second visit on 20th June, I was able to have some interaction with him. During that discussion, he told me about his interests and the kind of work he does. Sitaram likes to play drum and he gave us a demo of 5-10 min, he and his few friend also play drums when there is a wedding or function in their village. In the afternoon we went to his house to meet his parents and explain them about the A.E.M.T. training.

Sitaram is a 16 years 10 months according to his mark sheet, but he doesn’t remember his date of birth. His father Sukhan Ram is a farmer, carpenter and labourer; his mother Moharmati takes care of house, livestock and collects fire wood from forest. They belong to Uraon tribe. Sitaram and his family live in a small mud house with big courtyard outside. This space is utilized for cleaning grains, drying Mahua petals and a common hangout space for women in their neighborhoods.

Sitaram has discontinued his education from past two years, now he help his father in farming and earns some money by playing drums in wedding and other functions. He has also worked as construction worker for road under NREGA. His family is largely dependent on agriculture. During monsoon whole family work hard in fields so that they can have enough food and money for whole year. Their family income is approximately around INR 15,000 – 18,000 per annum.

Jyoti quit school because her family couldn't afford it

Jyoti quit school because her family couldn’t afford it

Similarly, on my next visit to Lalati, I meet Jyoti and Manmatee, 17 years and 15 years old respectively. When I meet them they were very shy to talk about anything. They belong to Korba Tribe (Primitive Tribe). I tried to explain them about A.E.M.T Training. After our 15-20 min discussion Manmatee smiled and said ‘I can only come to this training, if my cousin sister Jyoti accompanies me’. Jyoti didn’t react to any of our discussion; later her mother Turki Bai came and inquired about the training and said ‘ye gaon ki ladkiya hai, kuch nahi kar payegi’ (They are village girls and they can’t do any thing). I asked Jyoti and Manmatee if they wanted to come for this training, after a two-minute silence they said yes, only if their parents allowed them to. After this, the field coordinator explained the whole process and objectives of the project to their parents in their local dialect. In the mean time I asked Jyoti and Manmatee if they would like to click a photo, using my camera. Jyoti was too shy to take my camera, but Manmatee took the camera and said ‘I would like to click a photo’. She clicked a nice portrait of her sister-in-law, when their parents show this they laughed and said ‘if they want to learn then we won’t stop them from any kind of learning’.

Manmatee

Manmatee is very interested in clicking pictures!

Jyoti lives with her family, in a very small house made of mud. Her farther Vipta Ram is a farmer and a labour, her mother Turki Bai collects Mahua from forest and Jyoti takes care of all the household work. When we met her she was collecting cow dung. Manmatee’s father Vidya Ram is a farmer. Her mother Satmi also collects firewoods and Mahua from forest.

They wanted to pursue education, but didn’t since the family couldn’t afford it.

For both Jyoti and Manmatee, their visit to Ambikapur for workshop will be their first.

Sitaram, Jyoti and Manmatee attended the first A.E.M.T. Workshop and were interested to continue. They completed first and second workshop and now we can easily see a change in their overall attitude. Now they are much more confident and during second workshop their level of participation increased.

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