Published in Autumn 2014, this book highlights the power of education as spoken through the words of working children, living and growing up in Haryana State, India. Their world is one where child labour is endemic to the social fabric – ranging from exploitative home-based piece working, through to grueling working conditions in unsafe factories, as well as the comfortable homes of the liberal middle classes, who find it difficult to live without domestic servants, many of whom are children.
The children you will meet in this book work for many reasons; to pay off doctors’ debts for failed operations, to pay off loans incurred by drunken fathers, to remit money back to the family village in the hope of one day being able to purchase a small plot upon which to erect a place to call home, to pay for one sibling to be put through a fee paying school or, as we found in most cases, to simply survive and have enough food to be able to face the following day with a smile.
Despite living hardened lives, all of these children wanted one thing more than anything else for themselves and others like them – an education. They wanted this because they could see education as the only possible escape route from the generational cycle of poverty, illness and destitution. The suffering and hardship of millions of children is a growing issue across India – despite the state being one of the richest in the world.
It is estimated that ten billionaires in India own more wealth than 100 million poor people. We believe that, one day, real change will occur.
All profits from sales of An Indian Childhood will go towards supporting the schools programme of Prayas Social Welfare Society, an NGO which originated in Faridabad, Haryana State. Prayas have been responsible for providing a free education for over 50,000 children over the past decade, most of whom have no choice but to engage in poorly paid work.