With three young children to look after, Pinky had no choice but to take on an extra job and work all the hours she could. “We were leading a happy family life but after Nandan’s death, life was hard and unhappy,” she says. Despite working long hours, Pinky was earning just 1,000 rupees (USD $25) a month. The children gradually had to drop out of school, becoming some of the 1.4 million children out of school in India.
“During the day I was away at work and the children were at home. I started noticing that my son, Jagan, would come home very late and was very tired,” she remembers. “I asked him what he was doing and he told me he was working at textile factory, sowing sequins on to clothes”.
Jagan was just 10 years-old. “I knew he should be in school, but I couldn’t afford it,” she says.
The factory owner worked Jagan hard and often beat him. He told him that unless he got his sisters to come and work at the factory too, he would stop paying him. So, without Pinky knowing, the two girls started working at the factory. Worringly, this is a common occurrence in India, where nearly 12% of children in India are child labourers.
“One day my youngest daughter, who was 11 at the time, came home crying with her hands bleeding. She finally confided in me. She said she had only meant to help me,” says Pinky, her eyes welling up. “She told me how the factory owner threatened Jagan and how he beat her with a stick for dropping some sequins. I knew this had to stop”.
A brighter future
A friend had told Pinky about SOS Children’s Village Bawana, so she decided to investigate. She met with SOS staff and they explained about the family strengthening programme and how it was helping single women in need.
Our family strengthening programmes aim to keep families together, providing them with support, information and practical help to empower them. The programme is tailored to the needs of each individual family with the long-term aim of making families financially independent.
With the support of SOS Children, Pinky’s children started going to school again. The programme also helped Pinky secure a job at a wire company and gave her a loan of 3,500 rupees (USD $75) so that she could buy a pico machine to do pico work as a source of additional income. (Pico is a kind of stitching done on the ends of a cloth, such as a sari, to prevent it from falling apart).
The staff at the Children’s Village are also helping her apply for a widow’s pension from the state government. She now earns 4,500 rupees (USD $100) a month and is building a new house, and a new future for family.
SOS Children have provided love, care and education to abandoned, orphaned and vulnerable children and young people in India since 1963. Our family strengthening programmes operate alongside our Villages. Find out more about our work in India here.