Friday, 14 May 2010

Mari's story- continued

This is the latest photo of Mari and her daughter, with Gopal, a proud grandfather. We have now heard fom Venkat that Marsi, Mari's husband, is still a bonded labourer, tied to a quarry owner near Kanchipuram. He is now getting into trouble as, understandably, he wishes to spend time with Mari and the baby. Venkat has been told that Marsi hasn't borrowed much money himself from the quarry owner, but has inherited his father's debts when his father died some 5/6 years ago.
FOM have agreed to find 9000 rupees, about £140, to buy Marsi his freedom, on the understanding that he treats Mari and the baby repectfully and properly, and allows the baby to come to Crakehall School when she is old enough. Venkat will find Marsi work on the farm, training him in agricultural techniques and tractor driving etc. We will also pay him a decent wage, as well as providing accommodation and support. There will be one less debt slave in India!

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Paid to go to school?

One of the not-so-obvious ways that IRDT help local people is in accessing their rights and entitlements. This isn't easy when you can't read or write! This photo is of some of the tribal people who have chosen to settle near Mettupalayam as they appreciate the help that they receive. Across India, only around 5% of tribal children attend school and in order to encourage this, the Government have introduced an education grant. Venkat arranged for 24 Mettupalayam school and 4 secondary school pupils to go to the collectors office where each child received 600Rps- around £9, with a slightly higher payment for the older ones. In total, 16000Rps was paid out, around £240, a significant help to the parents.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Mari- a very young mother

Mari is one of the young children we found breaking rock some 6 years ago near to our farmland. Her parents and relatives were all bonded labourers (debt slaves) and were forced to stay working for the quarry owner despite inadequate wages, no proper housing and no access to healthcare. Following buying all 45 peoples freedom after our return to the UK, Mari was able to start at our Mettupalayam primary school and progressed to secondary school. However, following her mother's tragic suicide, she decided to leave school and was married last year at age 13! On Friday, Gomathi took her to the local clinic where she had a ceasarian birth, a baby daughter. Venkat had to pay for an ambulance to rush her to the government hospital as she was losing blood so badly. Today Venkat says that she is recovering well. I dread to think what would have happened to Mari and her daughter if we weren't around to take her to the clinic, then to hospital. The custom is not to give the baby a name for some time but we will continue to take an extra special interest in both Mari and her daughter.