Children living on stone quarries belong to one of the most disadvantaged groups in India. From the age of eight, children work up to fourteen hours a day digging, breaking and loading stones in toxic and hazardous environments.
They are under constant threat of accidents, injuries and chronic health disorders. They have little or no access to basic amenities like health care or education, and are extremely vulnerable to trafficking or sexual abuse. Disturbingly, the Indian government does not acknowledge the high incidence of child labour in mines and is not addressing this problem.
The Indian non-government organisation Santulan is working hard to address these issues and believes education is the way out of poverty and exploitation. In 1997 Santulan started an innovative, well-regarded and child-centred educational programme called “Pashan Shala”, meaning “Stone Quarry Schools”. Unfortunately, with the emergence of the Right to Education Act (RTE), these schools are no longer recognised by the Indian Government and in the long term these schools will be closed, even though most children have no other way to access basic education.
A Way Forward:
To continue the education of hard-to-reach children, the Indian Government has granted Santulan approval to develop residential schools. Residential schools will create a safe, positive environment for children to live, learn and grow.
They will not only provide both education and vocational training for the students, but also provide for their safety and basic needs by:
– Reducing the number of child labourers.
– Reducing the number of child marriages.
– Providing relief to parents struggling to provide for their children, particularly sick or single parents.
– Providing children with proper nutrition, medication and personal development opportunities.
– Helping children pursue vocational skills for alternative livelihoods to rock breaking.
– Breaking the ongoing cycle of poverty and exploitation in the stone quarry sector.
Santulan already has land and developed building plans by drawing on local support in India. The government will cover some of the operational costs, but will not provide funding for construction. Santulan is ready to start building, but depends on fundraising efforts to generate the necessary capital. Once the money is received, construction will take four months and the school will be operational within six months.
We are a group of Australians assisting Santulan with this challenge as we have experienced first-hand the selfless work that they are doing in pursuit of social justice for some of the most marginalised communities in Indian society. Our fundraising target is for $15,000, which is the minimum amount needed to cover basic furnishings such as study desks, chairs, beds and linen.
We would however like to raise at least $50,000 to cover the construction costs of one residential school for 50 children. Our funding timeframe is 90 days and during this time we ask you to reach out to all your networks to support this project!
Many hearty thanks for any contribution you can make to alleviate child poverty. For more information on Santulan, visit: www.santulan.org
** Note – this successful campaign was ported over from iPledg 2.0. Whilst there were a large number of backers who assisted the campaign in reaching its target, their number and details are not shown here