A former minor labourer, now an inspiration for others

This former brick-kiln minor labourer is an inspiration for others

Anushka was also able to convince the parents of eight other children, all brick-kiln labourers like her, to get enrolled in the school.  (DH Photo)

That “child is the father of the man, and mother of the woman” holds true for 14-year-old Anushka, a former brick-kiln child labourer in Thiorte, a child-friendly village (Bal Mitra Gram), in Uttar Pradesh's Meerut district, about 450-km from here.

The young girl not only persuaded her daily-wager parents to allow her to join school but also got them to join the School Management Committee (SMC) to run the village school administration.

Anushka was also able to convince the parents of eight other children, all brick-kiln labourers like her, to get enrolled in the school.  

Anushka aims to become an IAS officer and lay down the contours of education policy so that girl children like her, who belong to underprivileged backgrounds are able to access free and compulsory education.

The young girl, who appears to have matured beyond her age, virtually served as parents to her two younger siblings, a five-year-old brother, and a three-year-old sister.

“Since my parents did not earn enough for the five of us, I used to work with them in the neighbouring brick-kiln. During morning hours, I used to take care of my two siblings, and later I joined my parents at work,” she said, recalling her past.

“I want to become an IAS officer, and ensure every child of the country is admitted in school,” says the young-girl excitedly, flipping through the pages of her mathematics book. 

When Neetu Singh and Sher Khan, both activists of Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation (KSCF) met Anushka at her house, they found her babysitting her two siblings instead of being in school. “Later again, we met her and her parents at the brick-kiln four years ago and convinced them to send her back to school. For the last four years, she has been topping her class with flying colours,” says Neetu.  

Today, the girl has become a change-maker and also convinced her parents, Rishipal and Savita to join the village school as SMC members. Now her parents take care of the quality of mid-day meals and attendance of the other children in school.

“She has also got eight other girls, all former child labourers from marginalised communities, enrolled in the school with the help of other activists,” says Sher Khan.

The girl is also an active member of Bal Panchayat (Children’s Parliament).