Meet Priya

Priya's family Family crisis Making coir rope Help on the way

Priya's family
Priya is 12 years old. She lives in southern India with her father, mother and 14-year-old brother. Priya is in Year 8 and her brother is in Year 9. Her father is a casual labourer, working for other people whenever possible. He climbs palm trees and gets paid to pick the coconuts. Priya's mother is also a casual labourer. During the mango season, to increase their income, she buys wholesale mangoes from the nearby market town. After they've ripened, she resells them at the local market for a profit.

Family crisis
Four years ago, when Priya was 8 years old, her father fell from a palm tree and hurt himself badly. He couldn't work and needed treatment. The family used all their savings and borrowed money from relatives but it wasn't enough. They finally borrowed 2,500 rupees (about NZ$83) from a moneylender. The moneylender charges high interest rates, around 15% each month. The moneylender owned a coir rope-making business so Priya was bonded to work there making rope, until the loan and interest were repaid.

Priya's mother remembers the painful time when she forced Priya to leave school.
"Priya wanted to study but we tried telling her that she has to work as we needed money. It was difficult for me to do. Priya was crying. But we had no other choice."

Priya making coir at the roadside
Making coir rope at the
roadside
Making coir rope

Priya had to be at work by 5am. Her job was spinning the wheel used to make coir rope. It was hard work and the rope would cut her soft hands.

"My shoulders would hurt, my legs would hurt as I had to stand during the day in the sun. My back would ache too. I wished I could go back to school."

She worked until 5pm with only a short break for lunch. Back home, she still needed to help with the chores – washing, cleaning, cooking and fetching water. By 9pm she was so tired that she could only fall asleep.

Things began to improve when her father returned to work. However, they could not find the money to pay what they owed the moneylender. Each year they paid nearly double what they had first borrowed, just in interest.

Learn more about making coir rope and view the photo album

Help on the way
Project workers from World Vision's Born to be Free project heard about Priya. They paid back the family's loan and started Priya at the transit school to catch up on the classes she had missed. Then they helped her get re-admitted to school.

"World Vision got labourers to replace our thatched roof with tiles," recalls Priya's mother. "The thatch would leak during the rains and every two years we had to replace it, costing us 2,000 rupees. Since we got the new roof this has saved us money. The tiles will last for many years and we no longer have a leaky roof."

The project invested in some goats for the family too. They can use or sell the goats' milk and sell the offspring when they need extra money.

Priya is happy to be where she is. She intends to complete her schooling and take life as it comes. Her parents are grateful that World Vision has helped them get their daughter back to school.