For a mere sum of INR 5 per kilogram, young Neeraj risked his life every day to collect mica from the dangerous rathole mines in Jharkhand’s Duliakaram village. His family’s poor financial condition left him no choice but to collect mica and support his family in earning their daily bread and butter.
However, he went on to become a recipient of the prestigious Diana Award on July 1, 2020, for his tireless efforts in ensuring the development and upliftment of his village. But, the road was not easy for him.
Not just Neeraj, there were many others who were caught in the clutches of child labour and were being deprived of education and a bright future. Thanks to the timely intervention of our activists, Neeraj was rescued in 2011. However, considering there were many more children who were in need of help, the Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation (KSCF) initiated its flagship Bal Mitra Gram™ (BMG ™) programme in the village.
Neeraj, along with other rescued children, was enrolled in the local primary school. The young minds thrived in the new environment where they understood the importance of education, and Neeraj vowed to prevent other children from facing the same fate he did.
Influenced by the work and efforts of our founder, Nobel Peace Laureate Mr Kailash Satyarthi, Neeraj established ‘Kailash Satyarthi Public School’ in his village, which acted as a bridge for children, who were forced to drop out of school, to get reintegrated in traditional schools post intensive tutoring. Around 150 children were enrolled in the school at that time.
Neeraj is not just a role model for the children in his village, but also a support system for the entire community. From getting people linked to government schemes to ensure the installation of hand pumps and facilitating electricity and LPG supply for villagers, he ensures that his community continues on a path of holistic development.