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Rajesh’s story

April. 5, 2017 / Blog The Freedom Fund / @freedom_fund

The Freedom Fund’s Northern India hotspot aims to reduce trafficking, bonded labour and harmful child labour in two of India’s poorest states. Working with frontline organisations, we help communities build resistance to trafficking and slavery and reintegrate individuals coming out of situations of exploitation. One of our partners helped Rajesh, a child trafficking survivor get back on his feet, and he is now an advocate for quality education in his community. This is his story.

18 year old Rajesh’s decision to open a tutoring centre in his village grew out of deep reflection on his own personal journey. When Rajesh’s family members couldn’t feed themselves, they sent 15-year-old Rajesh with a trafficker to Kerala, a state in southern India. He was put to work in a garment factory. Not only was he not paid at all, but Rajesh was forced to work 12 hours a day and live in a one-room hut with eight other workers. He developed serious health issues due to lack of good food, and he wasn’t allowed to leave the property. He wasn’t even permitted to talk to his family.

When one of the Freedom Fund’s NGO partners, FSS, started work in Rajesh’s home village in 2015, his parents quickly became involved, learning about the dangers of children migrating for work. They became even more concerned about their son and found a way to contact Rajesh. Finally able to talk to his mother, Rajesh broke down, explaining his situation.

Rajesh’s desperate parents as well as NGO staff and members of the FSS-supported community vigilance group put pressure on the trafficker until he brought Rajesh home in May 2015. Back home, Rajesh joined a training course in mobile phone repairs, and FSS assisted him to find a job.  He was also recently admitted to a Bachelor of Arts program.

But Rajesh began to notice that many children in his village were not attending school and those who did attend were not receiving a quality education. He shared his concern with a friend, and they decided to open a tutoring centre for local children to supplement their education. FSS and the community group agreed that a tutoring centre should be opened and 56 students enrolled. Families pay a monthly fee of 100 rupees ($1.50 USD). Rajesh has become a leader and an inspiration to his community.

Find out more about the Freedom Fund’s Northern India Hotspot.

Pictured: A community group meeting in one of the Freedom Fund’s hotspots.