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About us

Child Labour Free Mica

Our sister organisation Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA) started working in Mica Mining in Eastern India in 2004 to research and find solutions to the elimination of child labour in these areas. In 2016, as part of the strategic restructuring, the work in Mica mining areas was passed on to Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation (KSCF). 

The initial research conducted by BBA showed approximately 20,000+ children were involved in mining mica, in an area controlled by left-wing extremists. Due to the security threats, in 2005 government agencies had not been able to visit the area for nearly 17 years. Resulting in a lack of access to government programmes, there were few if any functional schools, access to health care, clean water systems, etc.

Initially, it was not safe for our staff in the area, with many threats leading to the evacuation of staff from offices for long periods.

The research and work to eliminate child labour in the mica mines started in 9 villages in 2005-07. 

These remote villages were 100% dependent on mica for revenue, with an individual earning only a dollar a day. We started work in these areas to transform them into Child-Friendly Villages (Bal Mitra Grams). The Child-Friendly Village (CFV) programme is a transformative grassroots solution to prevent child exploitation, that empowers children to take democratic actions to protect their rights and enables parents and other stakeholders to stand up for the rights of children and build a protective community. 

Mica Mines

The most important task was to sit down and listen to the community. We realized that before the work of eliminating child labour could be started in the first 9 villages, the most critical need of the village was access to water. We constructed/repaired handpumps and wells in all the villages, working with the community.

In the villages, it was found that many people had never ever gone to school. To enable the withdrawal of children from the mines, access to education was a requirement, and we had to operate and fund ‘non-formal education schools’ (later to be run by government services). 

In the early days, it was often only the children from the CFVs who had the potential to have a voice. The adults were frequently in situations, including forms of debt bondage to the mica trade and mine operators, and possible coercion from the extremist groups, that made it difficult or impossible for them to speak out. As the children’s voices were heard en mass, the voices of the adults started to be heard, bringing about community decision-making to be central to moving forward.

A CFV is a multi-dimensional process and involves a community understanding opportunities and particularly being able to access government programs, education services; clean water; health programmes, roads, electricity, wireless services, etc.

A rights-based approach was integral to the work and did not just involve the withdrawal of children from mica mining, but included, eliminating child marriage, and trafficking, etc. Often this work was carried out by the children of the CFV council including the children in the village, youth and mothers’ groups, supported by our staff, and if necessary, the police and government agencies. As seen in the case study section, children went into the mines and rescued children working there.

As the work progressed the villages became more accessible to government agencies due to decreased security issues. KSCF and the government agencies of the States of Bihar and Jharkhand worked more closely together. In November 2018 the State of Jharkhand with KSCF formed the ‘Towards Child labour Free Mica’ partnership.

We have staff within the local District offices and work closely with - the District Child Protection Unit, the Child Welfare Committee including the Village Child Protection Committee, the Juvenile Justice Board; Juvenile Police Units; the National Commission of Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR); National and District Social Welfare Office; etc.

We also organise mass mobilization of children and adults in the area, holding rallies and marches against child labour, trafficking, child marriage, and that all children have a Right to Education, etc.

In 2006-07 there were 9 CFVs and in October 2023 there were 684 CFVs covering every mica-dependent village in the mica belt. 

Till December 2023, we have withdrawn 20,584 children from the mines. The target date for the
withdrawal of all children of the villages from mica mining is December 2023 with a 2-year
follow-up programme.

The work for the protection of all children from working in the mines will be achieved in collaboration with the communities and government agencies. 

Possibly the most important change that will eliminate child labour forever is that over the 19 years of partnership, there is now a “GENERATIONAL CHANGE”, where children rescued are becoming parents (within the legal age of marriage) and they will never allow their children to work in the mica mines (or elsewhere) and they understand that education is fundamentally important for the children and their community’s future.

We are working primarily to prevent children from the villages working in the mining of mica, although it will endeavour to rescue children from the mines, where they are trafficked from other areas and States, it cannot 100% prevent this due to security issues for staff and community. When this is found the police and authorities will be informed of a coordinated approach.

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