HARD LIVES OF SAHARIYAS
Sakara village is located in Uttar Pradesh’s Lalitpur district and is part of Bundelkhand, a region in central India known for endemic poverty and lack of development. The village is home to 100 families of Sahariya families. The average number of days it rains every year has come down from 52 to 23. Suffering from malnutrition, dying of hunger is a common sight here. Damage of all crops due to insufficient rains in every year is a common picture here. Traditionally they were dependent on the forests for food and livelihood but with the massive degradation of the forests and subsequent displacement, they turned to farming. Farming is often difficult as the area has little irrigation and Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) work, a plan of Government of India under Ministry of rural development, has not been much of much help to this tribal society as payments are too little and irregular. Acres of land lie barren.
Extreme poverty made them desperate to push their children into modern day slavery in the hope of saving them from starvation. In exchange for paltry sums a month, parents have been handing over their children to men who then transport them to different states for returning loans previously taken from local landlords. Cut off from their families, the children work for long hours and often do not know when they will be permitted to return. But conditions at home are so grim that a number of children are eager to escape through work of this sort. According to the villagers, they are more than pleased to make an honest living there in the village. But these days, due to price rise and various government plans, their lives have changed. In a place where two meals a day is a luxury, parents have been sending their kids to make ends meet and also to ensure that the children are at least fed.