Understanding The Community : A Child During Seasonal Migration

The winter break is about to start. There would be no classes, as per the academic calendar scheduled holidays are till 2nd of January. No classes and a break from schools’ daily schedule make children from Magurpani village, happy and excited in today’s assembly session. As part of my field immersion, I am staying in the village with the resource person working here. My day starts with the usual day to day activities with the community. Getting up early morning, walking to the pond taking bath in the stream flowing near the village. The village life is well organised and has a daily work schedule. Paddy crop is ready and the families are working on daily basis in the fields. Their work starts at 4 am early morning. Khabeswar Khadia, a resident of Magurpani, at first goes to the villages’ road construction site and loads bricks and stones. After completing this work, he moves toward the paddy field and works on crop cutting. Once the crop cutting is over in the village, he is planning to migrate in the coming week. Those who were in need of money or taken advance from the contractor already migrated.

Group Of family members working on paddy field [Picture Courtesy- Niket]

This year, the paddy crop has been affected because of rain, and the situation has added to the number of families migrated. The migration mapping using participatory rural appraisal (PRA) has been carried out by the field resource person working in the village — identification of households, collecting the details and to ensure that children studying shouldn’t migrate with their parents.

Social Map of Magurpani Village [Picture Courtesy- Niket]

Magurpani is small a village under Boirbhadi panchayat with a total 246 number of households. There are 70 families from Scheduled Tribes, 6 families are from Scheduled Castes and 170 families from Other Backward Classes. Every year, families from the village migrate to neighboring states (Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu) and to the coastal district within Odisha where they work in brick kilns. This nature of their work is linked to debt cycles, which forces families to go through this because of many interwoven socioeconomic, political and geological climate factors. The need for money to repay debts takes away from family sustenance, agricultural activities and health. They work for wages under contractual process and are compelled to tolerate forced labour condition.

Farmer taking their goats for grazing [Picture Courtesy- Niket]

The impact of migration is not just limited to the adult members of the family, but it disrupts the lives of children as well, specially the children studying. If a child migrates, they remain away from village for a period more than six month in between the months of October or November to July. During this move, they dropout from their school, lose enrollment or fail to cope up as par with the regular student of the class. To ensure the children educational needs and access to provisioning, every year seasonal hostels are opened. These hostels start with the onset of seasonal migration in the districts of Nuapada, Bargarh and Bolangir.

In Magurpani village the families who migrate to other states admit their children to the seasonal hostel opened at Mangurpani school. At present there are 45 children admitted in this hostel.

Children playing at Magurpabi Seasonal Hostel [Picture Courtesy- Niket]

For Dinesh Majhi, a student of class 6, this holiday break is going to be different from his other classmates from the same village. He would be staying in the same campus and there would be no daily classes during this break. The day starts with the usual day to day activities, waking up in the morning, small activities of yoga and exercise. And usual daylong activities and games, lunch, games in the evening and dinner at the night. “This is our home and this is our school”, says Dinesh Majhi, whose parents migrated to Uttar Pradesh and they would be coming back in the month of July.

Niket has completed his education from Jamia Millia Islamia. He has done his graduation from the Cluster Innovation Centre at the University of Delhi. In pursuance of his interest to work with marginalized communities, he completed Masters in Social Work from the University of Delhi. It is one of his goals to work for an equitable and accessible public education system. Niket has worked closely with rural communities under State Rural Livelihood Mission in Maharashtra and Rajasthan. He has undertaken academic research work with the forest and mountain communities of Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh. As an AIF Clinton Fellow, Niket served with Lokadrusti, an organisation working with the distressed migration population of western Odisha district under AIF's Learning and Migration Program (LAMP).

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