Humans and animals have moved across territories and continents since ages due to various reasons. Migration is largely related to the global economy. It has led to various social, political and technological transformations. While the migration taking place is shaping our lives in various ways it also affects the life of those involved in it. In many nations, young workers who were already facing (high) unemployment prior to the epidemic are now susceptible as a result of the crisis’s plummeting labor demand.

According to the 2001 Census, interstate migrant workers account for 35.4 percent of all construction workers in the country’s metropolitan regions. In the past 2 years India has witnessed unprecedented ‘reverse migration’, with 453.6 million internal migrants. To combat the COVID-19 outbreak, the government imposed a statewide curfew and sealed inter-state and international borders, causing informal migratory laborers to return home. This has caused great hardships, loss of life, trauma and many lives have been disrupted, leaving behind an air of uncertainty. The vulnerability of the migrant construction laborer was worsened by the fact that a major portion of India’s working-age migrant population works in the informal economy, denying them access to social security benefits in the event of a lockdown.

Construction, which was one of the worst-affected sectors during the pandemic, is also a major source of employment for India’s migrant workers. According to the Jan Sahas Survey, which was done at the start of the lockdown (March 27-29, 2020), 54% of construction employees support three to five individuals, while 32% support more than five people. As the virus spread, many migrant workers’ jobs were abruptly halted or canceled, leaving them without a source of income. Some employees were fired without compensation, while others had their hours or salary cut, or were forced to take time off. Others were not paid for tasks they had completed, which was in breach of their contracts.

Early child development within the first five years of life is critical. It becomes the parent’s goal to do whatever they can to improve the lives of our children but these migrant workers have no choice but to take their toddlers with them to the construction sites. Childhood clearly has an impact on adulthood; our early experiences form our perceptions of ourselves, others, and the world. As a result, we learn rules in order to protect our self-esteem, which can make us vulnerable. As a result, we develop dysfunctional behaviors, which can lead to mental health issues. Most of us have little recollection of our first two or three years of existence, but our earliest memories can linger for years and influence us well into adulthood.

Children who migrate with their parents or family members come from different kinds of socio – economic & ethnic backgrounds. There is a growing interest in understanding how migration impacts the lives of child migrants. Children are amongst the most vulnerable groups in society, migration impacts their education, health, well-being and mortality needs to be carefully analyzed. Early childhood deprivation has long-term effects, and this section focuses on health outcomes for children aged 0 to 5. Children of migrant workers lack access to basic early learning and skills, which are critical for a child’s development.

The field research that was conducted indicated that apart from the adults, the kids were also being affected by migration. The adults had accepted their fate and worked hard towards making the ends meet but the kids were left behind in this chaos.They were deprived of a basic necessity like education. Their future had been decided since birth, to follow the footsteps of the elderly working in that site. The interview also revealed that the many instances that would be considered as an issue by other people in the society was not the case for the people working on those sites. It was heartbreaking to see the children playing with tobacco packs, completely oblivious to the long-term consequences. The observations then shifted the focus to children of the migrant laborers.

In order to make a difference by allowing these children to play with pencils and crayons instead of tobacco packets hence, the following activity was conducted as a part of a social experiment. The children of the workers were provided with A4 sheets, crayons and sketch pens and were asked to draw or write anything that comes to their mind. The children were excited to get their hands on the crayons and sketch pens and tried to understand the materials, yet it was very clear that they had never done so before, as they didn’t know how to hold it in a manner to write.

They tried to draw the basic shapes and patterns that they saw in daily life, with a little help from the group members. Sunil, the oldest among the kids there, attempted to write his name and went on to repeat it while the younger kids scribbled and copied the elder ones. Even the simplest of the shapes they drew and words they were able to write gave them immense joy. Their faces were filled with wonder and enthusiasm. They are unable to distinguish between good and wrong, so it is critical not to allow these children to fall into the wrong traps. Sunil, who was old enough to write something, didn’t know how to write from left to right, which surprised us.

“It would have been better if the child had been taught about this in his childhood,” we often hear, yet we don’t seem to make an attempt to recognise that the children of migrant workers have been deprived of these early learning phases. We won’t be able to change their fate, but we can help them in some way. We have tremendous power to affect a child’s life, and it is through these modest changes that we can better their childhood.

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