Family crisis Making coir rope
Help on the way
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.
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
Making coir rope at the
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.
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
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.