Every day before beginning work, BASE staff members usually take time to socialize in the office courtyard. Sitting in red and blue plastic chairs in the shade of a rubber tree, they read the daily newspaper, talk about politics and exchange personal stories. One morning the friendly Diplal, BASE’s Administrative Head, decided to forgo the usual lighthearted banter and school me on the breadth of BASE’s work.
Bonded Labor. Child Labor. Education. Human rights. Health. Family Planning. Women’s socio-economic development. Gender equity. Microfinance. My head was spinning as he spouted off the issues BASE’s work addressed and their acronymed program names (e.g. CBCDC for Child-based Development Center, CDDD for Child Development Discussant Program, and C2C for Child to Child Education…). BASE’s work seems to touch on every issue. They are everywhere, doing everything. I couldn’t help but wonder, what is the common thread?
I have realized that it all comes back to education. Bonded labor was abolished in 2000; however, two over-arching problems have remained. For one, the government did nothing to rehabilitate the freed kamaiyas (bonded laborers). The law granted them freedom, but with no land, skills or education, they were prisoners of poverty. And for the other, persistent poverty has given rise to and perpetuated the rampant system of child labor that exists today. Families, unable to provide for all of their children, have been hoodwinked by false promises of schooling and big city futures. Ultimately, their children end up being sent away to distant, unknown places and enslaved as domestic workers.
BASE’s core approach rests on the tenet that through education, Tharus can rise above their marginalization and claim their basic human rights. This is a classic rights-based approach to development. And I love it!
Posted By Adrienne Henck
Posted Jun 20th, 2010