In a remote village called Buchitand, located in the Kolgarma Panchayat of the Koderma district, a 14-year-old girl named Nisha Kumari fought against the odds to break free from the shackles of child labour. Nisha’s story is one of resilience, determination, and the transformative power of education.
She hails from an impoverished family, residing with her parents, two brothers, and two sisters. Her father worked as a daily wage labourer in the Ramgarh district of Jharkhand, while her mother collected mica scraps for a living. To support her family’s weak financial condition, young Nisha joined her mother in mica collecting.
However, in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic struck, causing schools to shut down and severely impacting Nisha’s family. Her father lost his job, worsening their economic situation. Witnessing their household’s deteriorating condition, Nisha’s parents made a difficult decision to send her to her maternal uncle’s home in Barwadih, Markachho block, Koderma. There, Nisha and her uncle collected mica scraps from nearby areas, earning a meagre income of 120 to 180 rupees daily, which she sent back to her family.
When Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation (KSCF) launched the Bal Mitra Gram Programme in Buchitand in July 2022, our team discovered Nisha’s absence from school and swiftly intervened to once again link her to education.
However, when we attempted to encourage Nisha to resume schooling, she would either shut the door or run away. While she verbally agreed with her mother and the KSCF team’s pleas to attend school, she did not end up joining. Determined to get her back to school, the family and KSCF team turned to the Bal Panchayat (Children’s Council) in the village for assistance.
The child leaders of the Bal Panchayat played a crucial role in Nisha’s transformation. They visited her daily, sharing inspiring stories from their own schools and the experiences of their friends. These tales ignited a spark within Nisha and slowly changed her perspective.
After two months of persistent efforts, Nisha finally mustered the courage to embrace education once again. She was re-enrolled in the 8th grade. The Bal Panchayat maintained regular contact with Nisha to ensure her continued attendance and retention.
In March 2023, Nisha triumphantly passed her 8th-grade examination. Her achievement further bolstered her determination to pursue education and realize her dream of becoming a teacher. With renewed hope and spirit, she proclaimed, “I was once stuck in the chains of child labour and had lost track of my dreams. But now, I am determined to become a teacher and impart education to others.”
Nisha also emphasized the importance of the Bal Mitra Gram (BMG) program in liberating her from child labour. She believes that every village in the Koderma district should be a Bal Mitra Gram, empowering more children to break free from the clutches of labour and embrace education.