Dire situation in the brick kilns of Kanpur

Among the hardest hit in the lockdown has been India’s massive informal economy, which employs about 424 million Indians, some 90% of the workforce, according to data from the country’s finance ministry. That is a population greater than the combined size of the U.S., the U.K. and Australia.

  • Jagriti Bal Vikas Samiti works with children of migrant laborers in Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh. One of their projects is Apna Skool, which translates as ‘Our school’. These schools are non-formal schools that are set-up at brick kilns or construction sites. Along with education, Jagriti provides nutritious snacks during the day, uniforms, winter clothes, educational materials, and also organizes health checkups and immunization camps. Roughly 400 children are enrolled in 25 Apna Skool centers around Kanpur.
  • When the lockdown was announced, these families were stranded at their work sites, unable to return to their villages. Although they were still receiving wages, it was marginal. Most of the workers travel from neighboring states like Assam, West Bengal, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh. Hence, they do not own ration cards or other state documentation that is required for government funded supplies. THIS HAS BEEN THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE.
  •  These families have not received any government support and completely rely on charitable
    donations. Also, the fact that the brick kilns are located far from cities has been a hurdle.
  •  Apna Skool coordinators have been distributing ration, face masks and soaps to approximately
    1300 families from 25 brick-kilns in different locations. There is minimal awareness of social
    distancing and personal hygiene. The families live in huts with no electricity, drinking water or
    toilets. There are no health facilities in the area.
  • When the lockdown began, all Apna Skool centers were closed. some of the older children were
    provided with laptops pre-loaded with educational videos. The younger children don’t fully grasp
    the situation and want to know when they can go back to school.
  • Apna Skool has received just one local donation. They have limited volunteers and transportation
    resources and they are only able to visit 1-2 brick kilns in a day.
  • With the summer season approaching, the situation is expected to worsen as the families have
    used up all their savings and the brick-making work closes for the season in June.

Apna Skool is in dire need of funds to continue supporting these families.

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