Sona*, 21 years of age, lives with her family in one of Firozabad’s identified slums in Uttar Pradesh. In this community, about 80% of the households are home-based bangle workers, it has been their livelihood for more than two hundred years and are the biggest manufacturers of glass bangles in the world. Sona and her family migrated to Firozabad to try their luck in finding a better livelihood opportunity. Initially, her father worked there as a labourer in a glass factory, earning a mere income of Rs. 3,000 a month. Realizing the need for more resources to meet the demands of eight members in the family, Sona’s elder sister along with her mother joined the glass bangle industry as daily labourers.
The elder sister and her mother had to do bangle making for long hours during the day from home. For many years, they earned their livelihood day in and day out, with such continuous labour. Since they couldn’t afford much, they rented a small two-room house, which was too small for their family. Due to which they faced many difficulties, to survive, to adjust and accommodate with limited resources during those days. The height of which was when the children’s education had started getting interrupted. Glass bangle industry prefers children as they have smaller hands which are more considered more efficient in giving shape to bangles.
Sona* was 4 years when she started attending ChildFund’s Early Child Development Center with her sister. At the center, children were taught through toy-based pedagogy, which creates fun–filled, engaging and stress-free learning for their holistic growth. After a few years, she got associated with Veerangana Laxmi Bai Child Club, where she indulged in drawings and crafts. She started excelling in sketching/drawing and participated in competitions. With ChildFund’s DISHA program, which promotes sustainable community-based strategies for the prevention of this child labour, she began learning about child rights, along with the importance of continuing her education. As time passed, she moved on from the child club to the youth club by 2015, in her adolescence. Life skills lessons helped her to gain confidence to present herself in front of others. Within a year, she started leading the meetings of the youth club.
She then joined ChildFund’s Daksh Center, which focuses on skill enhancement of youth, with hands-on, practical training like tailoring and ITES vocational skills, to make children ready for the ever-evolving job market. Sona joined a three-month computer course and gained basic computer skills. With support from ChildFund, she enrolled and completed two courses – Triple C and Tally, from a nearby computer center. After completing the course, she became a computer instructor at the same computer center. One year has passed by and now she runs a franchise of the computer training center in partnership with her previous trainer. A total of 20 children are enrolled and taking courses on Trippel C and Tally courses.
Today, she is earning a decent income from the computer centre ! Thanks to her persistence and determination, she is moving out of the vicious cycle of poverty and contributing to the routine expenditure of her family. She is a great advocate of child rights, a vocal member of her community, who tries to support other children in continuing their education and preventing them from becoming child labourers.
The glass bangle industry employs a huge chunk of the children population from the communities. To protect and safeguard their interest, ChildFund intervened in the slums of Firozabad district, in 2004. Through the integrated program approach, ChildFund is supporting many children and youth in continuing their education, enhancing their skills and exploring new livelihood opportunities. In addition to this, the integrated approach strengthens family income by providing additional livelihood opportunities, positive parenting tips, creating awareness on child labour, healthcare services and more.
Note: ( * name changed )