Neeraj Murmu – Winner of Diana Award, 2020

From mica mining in rat holes to providing education to 200 children

A 21-year-old tribal boy Neeraj Murmu from our Bal Mitra Gram (child friendly village) Duliakaram in Jharkhand brought joy and pride to us when he was conferred with United Kingdom’s prestigious Diana Award 2020, instituted in the memory of late Princess of Wales on July 1, 2020. The award is the most prestigious accolade a young person aged 9 – 25 can receive for their humanitarian work or social action.

Neeraj was withdrawn from Mica mining in 2011, when implementation of our flagship programme Bal Mitra Gram (BMG) started in his village, Duliakaram, situated in Tisri block of Girdih district in Jharkhand. Soon after, the village was also declared child friendly, with no reported cases of exploitation and abuse of children.

Before being withdrawn from labour, young Neeraj used to risk his life everyday as he crawled into rat holes to collect mica which was sold for a mere Rs. 5 per kilogram.

Once enrolled in the local school, he understood the value of education and the ill-effects of child labour, and pledged to ensure education for all in his village.

Influenced by the work and efforts of our founder, Nobel Peace Laureate Mr. Kailash Satyarthi, Neeraj established ‘Kailash Satyarthi Public School’ in his village, which acts as a bridge school and is at present preparing around 150 school dropouts to be reintegrated to mainstream schooling.

Presently, the president of Yuva Mandal, the local youth group, Neeraj is not just a role model for the children in his village but also a support system for his entire community as he is constantly involved in social work right from getting people linked with government schemes like old age and widow pension, to ensuring installation of hand pumps and connecting people with electricity and LPG supply.