Thousands of villagers migrate from Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Chhattisgarh to work as labourers at the construction sites. These seasonal workers come for six or seven months and then return to their villages to help the crop harvest.
The seasonal workers bring their families with them at the construction sites. They typically work all day, leaving the children alone.
Home is a tiny tin shed where kids are left to fend for themselves. Often falling ill, with little or no adult supervision and medical care, the children end up being malnourished.
Mobile Creches become crucial at this point as the children are looked after by the day care centres at various construction sites. They are run by the organisation with the help of donations or in a 50:50 partnership with the builders of the construction site.
This is how a day goes by at the crèche:
A mother walks in to drop off her seven-month-old daughter at Mobile Creche before she leaves for work at the construction site where she is employed.
It’s 7:30 am and the play area of the creche is being cleaned before the start of the day. But the children have already arrived.
Caretakers give daily lessons on cleanliness. As a result, most children come bathed and ready for the day. For those who don’t, there is oil and a comb.
Asha, 2, is recovering from a skin allergy. She is being treated by a doctor who visits Mobile Creche once a month. Asha enjoys her meal. When she arrived at the mobile crèche, she was malnourished but her condition has improved over the last three months.
Aditi is intrigued by the camera. Caretakers say she was weak and didn’t eat well when she first came to Mobile Creche. Now she enjoys her meals and often asks for a second helping.
The non-formal education group is given a word to learn every month. The word this month is “jungle,” and children are learning everything related to it.
Mobile Creche helped Umesh get admission in class 4 at the local government school. He spends his time after school at the crèche as his parents are still at work.
All the children are taught about personal hygiene and the importance of keeping their hands clean.
The afternoon begins with a healthy meal of eggs, daal, rice and ghee. The kids look forward to this meal. It has helped many children become healthier and cope malnutrition.
Children take a nap after lunch. They fall asleep within minutes of lying down.
Once children wake up after their nap, they are taken to the toilet. They stand in a queue for their turn and are taught to use it responsibly. It’s an important part of their toilet training.
Various group activities in the afternoon keep the children engaged. Activities range from reading books to puzzle solving to motor development skills.
One of the most enjoyed activity is ‘How things work’, this activity keeps children of all ages glued to the experiments.
Some older children also come to the creche after school because their parents are at the construction site.
Occasionally some mothers drop by to check on her children at the mobile creche.
As evening sets in, parents come to take their children home.
(All photos by Pooja Arya)