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Teenager Champa Kumari wins prestigious The Diana Award

Ranchi: Where there is a will, there is a way…

13-year-old Champa Kumari has done what thousands of children in India who come from below the poverty line see only in their dreams.

Until 2016, Champa used to pick dhibra (waste of mica) in Ganwah block’s Jamdar village, 90 kilometers from Giridih headquarters with her entire family. While doing so, she had come across a rally of the Bachpan Bachao Andolan (now Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation), which works to stop children from child labour and help connects children with school and education.

“When I saw the rally, I went to those people and told them that I also want to study, but my father is not interested in it. Later, I took them to my father,” Champa recalls while talking to eNewsroom.

But before going to the full story of Champa, it is important to know about the area she comes from. The area where Champa comes is called the ‘Third World’ because of its backwardness. Here most people are dependent on the waste of mica for eke-out-living. It is situated on the border of Giridih and Koderma, naxal infested area too. Several families are involved in the work of picking mica waste to earn their bread and butter. Many a times, people including children die when mica mines cave-in.

The daughter of Mahendra Thakur and Basanti Devi, Champa, who has four brothers and a sister, further said, “My father said that if he has to send somebody to school for study he will send his son and not daughter. Then I sing a folk song before my father, as why he should let me study. After listening to it, he reply was, when she can sing so well without studying, then she can do wonders after after study.

Champa said to her elder brother who works in Mumbai that she wants to study, then she got the full permission.

Child labour champa kumari mica child marriage diana award
Champa Kumari speaks in a function while Giridih Superintendent of Police Surendra Jha encourages her

But the 10-year-old not only joined school but remain active in many social activities and also prevented child marriages.

In 2016, with the help of Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation, a child marriage was stopped and in 2017 we stopped second such marriage,” Champa said further.

“Today both the girls are in tenth standard, and I am studying in nine,” she says smilingly.

Champa has stopped two more child marriages, one in 2019 itself.

“We have to struggle a lot to stop these two child marriages. Society’s people were not ready to stop child marriage. Then we had to get the help of the child helpline and then the child marriage stopped,” said Champa who had become a fully social worker till now.

In these two cases, the girl’s age was only a few months less than 18 years, so when they attained the legal age of marriage, then their marriages were taken place.

Since when Champa get associated with the Kailash Satyarthi Foundation, she became the head of the Bal Panchayat of the program being run by the foundation. Later she became mukhiya at state level and now she is a national vice president.

Champa does not leave any chance to make society a better place.

“We had noticed the quality of leadership in Champa very early and by her actions she proved it in the years to come,” says Mukesh Kumar, Convener, Giridih District Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation.

“Once I had the opportunity to share state with Kailash Satyarthi Sir and Chief Minister Raghubar Das Ji, so I requested the Chief Minister about the lack of teacher in our school. We lacked four teachers here and today our school has got two new teachers.” Champa informed jubilantly.

Similarly, when Champa shared the stage with the local MLA Rajkumar Yadav, she mentioned that the road to her house is not in good shape, and now construction of the road has begun.

Now Champa’s work is not only being heard local but internationally too, so the 13-year-old girl has been honour with Diana Award 2019, by The Diana Foundation, United Kingdom.

The Diana Award is conferred by the British Government to several children every year worldwide for their social works so that they can become an inspiration for other children.

Govind Khanal of the Kailash Satyarthi Foundation informed eNewsroom that Diana Foundation will also take up the expenditure on the post of Champa’s graduation.

But the story of Champa does not end here. Because of the financial hardships, Champa’s child labor has not yet completely ended.

Champa has to spend roughly 15 days a month for her tuition worth 600 rupees. “Every two and half hours in the evening, I work and cut the mica, almost 10 kilograms, which gives me 40 rupees. I do it for 15 days of the month and fund my tuition,” the Diana Award winner girl concludes.

But now after the Diana Award, Champa may not have lived in such a situation again.

Or may some donor come forward to help Champa.

Shahnawaz Akhtar

is Founder of eNewsroom. He loves doing human interest, political and environment related stories.

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