India has the highest number of bonded labourers- a system where labourers take a loan and work against it to pay off the debt. The loan is designed in such a way that it can never be paid off and is often passed down to generations. This is ''Modern day Slavery". Our government hardly recognizes this problem and the efforts to eradicate it are very minimal. VSJ has been working in Punjab to eradicate bonded labour from past 30 years. In Punjab, bonded labourers are mostly found in agriculture sector and brick kiln industry. We face a problem that once we release a labourer from bondage there is high vulnerability that he might fall back into the trap. The reason being they lack remunerative skills, initial capital to start some business and lack of awareness. These labourers who have tasted freedom for the first time in their lives have tough time trying to adjust in this competitive world. They lack that initial support which can help them to be financially independent and lead a life of dignity. So we would like to start a rehabilitation wing for our organization where released labourers can be provided with an adequate rehabilitation support.
We plan to start a 3 dimension rehabilitation program which covers > employment > awareness > health.
Employment: Here our main focus would be to assist labourer to get a regular source of livelihood accompanied with access to the various entitlements.
We would investigate the hidden skills in the labourer and accordingly help him/her to grow in that field. Simultaneously, we would help them to get access to entitlements like ration card, MGNREGA card, Bhima card, Voter ID, Aadhar card and Bank A/C, housing and access to formal credit.
Awareness: One of the main reasons the labourers get over powered by the employers is lack of awareness about the legal rights. A proper session would be taken to make them aware about legal rights. We would also issue interactive booklets and audio/visual recordings which labourers getting aware.
Health: Labourers have been working under exploitative condition with meager diet and health facilities. Hence, this step becomes very important to help them rejuvenate their health. This includes access to clean drinking water, knowledge about the nutrition & health, deliveries in hospitals and providing clean sanitation facility. Here we also plan to prepare a diet chart that is specific to their region and it would also include food items that are nutritious and fit into their budget.