Rama Kant: A Child Labourer in a Bangle Making Factory
Rama Kant, a 12 year old boy from Bihar in India, was busy playing with his friends when his mother called him and informed that he will be meeting a man who would take him to Delhi, where he will be working and earn a lot of money. Rama Kant innocently obeyed to her mother's commands without any argument.
The young boy was not aware that he was being sold to a factory owner by his mother. She gave away her child for Rs. 7000/- because the family was poverty stricken. They lived in poor conditions and their source of income could not support the entire family.
Rama Kant was now working in a bangle – making factory in Jahangirpuri in Delhi. At first he thought it will be okay because he will be earning money which will help to support his family. However, he was taken aback when he realized that the factory owner did not pay even a single penny to him. He lived in the worst of conditions where he was made to sleep on the floor of the factory, there was no freedom of movement and the food provided to him was not adequate. Rama Kant felt sick living in the factory. The place was not even safe to work as one of his fellow worker had passed away working there. He had to work for more than 12 hours every day.
Rama Kant was rescued on 20th July, 2013 by Global March Against Child Labour partner, Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA) from the bangle – making factory and was rehabilitated in the Mukti Ashram or the Rehabilitation Centre. When the boy was rescued, he was found in a deplorable condition- dressed shabbily, stinking, in poor health condition and scared to talk to anyone.
After the rescue operation, Rama Kant and numerous children like him were made comfortable and secure. They were provided with healthy food and were well taken care of at the Rehabilitation Centre, till deemed fit. In this process, Rama Kant and others were made aware of their child rights, the menace of child labour and encouraged to gain education for a brighter future. He was later united with his family and started attending school in his village.
Meena: A Child, a Sweatshop Labourer
Meena would never forget the 10 days he was made to work when she was a13 year old child. She was taken away from her village in Madhubani, Bihar to go to Delhi to work in a garment factory. Meena wasn't good at her studies and was more interested in playing with her friends. Her parents were very disappointed with her because she wouldn't pay much attention to her studies, and used to waste her time. Her parents met a man who used to send little children to work. The man told Meena’s parents that Meena would have to leave her school and would have to work for Rs. 5000 per month and 8 hours a day.
Due to their poor income, they agreed to send Meena to Delhi to work and asked the man to send Meena’s wages to them every month. Meena’s parents didn't realise that this would soon turn into bonded labour and they would not be able to see their daughter again nor gain any money out of it. Due to their illiteracy, they had no idea about the age limit for work.
Meena reached Delhi in April, and started work soon. She worked under Karan, who gave her jeans to stitch. Meena many-a-times hurt herself with needles. If she didn't complete her work on time, she was given extra work and was made to stay overtime. She wasn't given a regular meal, even though they promised her lunch every day. The days when she didn't complete her work, she wasn't given lunch and was beaten profusely.
She didn't have clean clothes to wear, was beaten from time to time and not provided with proper food. She was mentally and physically worn out within a short span of 10 days. It was the worst ten days of her life and she wished to go back home, but now she was a child slave.
On 16th April 2013, Global March Against Child Labour partner, Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA) rescued Meena and 14 more children from the garment factory and were rehabilitated in the Mukti Ashram or Rehabilitation Centre. They were counselled, given proper meals, abundant place to play and were taught by qualified teachers, until their parents came to take them back home.
When Meena’s parents came to pick her up from the Mukti Ashram, they were in tears and extremely guilty. They told her that they would immediately put her back in school and would work harder so that Meena could follow her dreams.