UP village celebrates young changemaker ahead of Diwali

Iqra, a former child laborer and daughter of daily wage labourers, whose persistent efforts saw their school receive an electricity connection a year ago, just a day ahead of Diwali. 

Days before Diwali, the children and teachers in this school in Dalampur village, some 28 kms from Meerut in Uttar Pradesh, are working to brighten their schools with a set of new lights.

However, they have not forgotten 14-year-old girl Iqra, a former child laborer and daughter of daily wage labourers, whose persistent efforts saw their school receive an electricity connection a year ago, just a day ahead of Diwali.  

“I warned the authorities that I would sit on a 'dharna' on the gates of the electricity department if our school is not connected with power ahead of Diwali... I also spoke to the Block Development Officer, Executive Engineer and Junior Engineer of the power department," Iqra said.

The protests worked, with her school receiving a power connection, some 16 years after its construction.

Recalling her contribution to the school and education of children in the village, school principal Rajiuddin Khan says, “Iqra not only brought electricity to the school but also acted as a change-maker and helped in admission and education of 11 children after convincing their parents.”

The young teenager, who has struggled hard to receive an education herself, was even instrumental in preventing the marriage of a minor girl, Rukmini (name changed).

Iqra, who used to work with her parents in the agricultural fields, had a path full of sorrow and struggle, until activists of the Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation (KSCF) reached out to her in 2017. “I used to work to support my poor family. I always wanted to study. KSCF activists approached me and asked me to shun child labor, as it is against the law. My parents initially cited financial challenge and family tradition but later agreed to send me to school for education.”

KSCF activist Sher Khan, who played a crucial role in getting Iqra out of child labor, says, “We found in our survey in BMG (Bal Mitra Gram) Dalampur that Iqra is not going to school in 2017. We approached her and her parents. After repeated counseling and visits they somehow agreed to send Iqra to school. We admitted her in standard VI in 2017."

Now, Iqra’s mother Farzana is on top of the world. “I am elated to see how Iqra has been working for the education of community girls. We are proud of our daughter,” she says. 

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