It’s a common sight in villages of Kalahandi, where I work with Swasthya Swaraj, to see girl children care for their younger siblings. This is often at the cost of their own education as they drop out of school to become the caretaker. This is because their mothers go for farming and there is no one else to do it. Many of them never get admitted to school, leave alone dropping out.
This early introduction to caregiving not only robs them of their childhood but also significantly narrows their future prospects. Without formal education, their horizons are limited, perpetuating a cycle where they, like their mothers before them, might have to rely on their daughters to sacrifice their education for familial responsibilities. Their hands, which should be holding books and pencils, are instead occupied with feeding bottles and baby clothes.
It’s with a heavy heart I write this poem, in my journey of seeing and experiencing things that disturb me.