Shanu: Breaking the Cycle of Child Labor In India

Shanu's Story

Like so many children in India, Shanu* dropped out of school when she was 16 to help her mother roll beedis (cigarettes). Together they earned around $60 a month.

If Shanu continued this work, her eyesight and hands would eventually be so damaged that she would need to depend on her daughter to survive. And the cycle would continue.

Although her parents understood this danger, they were more concerned that Shanu would not have a way to make a living if she stayed in school. Luckily, they agreed to enroll her in vocational training for tailoring, so she could learn a skill to earn money in a safe environment.

“I’m so happy to have this new skill,” Shanu says, her serious face breaking into a smile. I’m confident that I can earn a living and support my family. And best of all, I’ll never have to go back to rolling beedis.”

Did You Know?

  • Over 1.7 million children are working in India's beedi rolling industry. Manufacturers believe that children’s nimble fingers are more adept at rolling cigarettes.
  • The health impact on beedi workers is visible on all age groups. Tuberculosis, asthma, body pain and postural problems related with hips and joints are most common. Continuous beedi rolling leads to absorption of high doses of nicotine directly through skin. The skin on the children's fingertips begins to thin progressively, and by the time they reach their 40s they cannot roll cigarettes any more.
  • Plan has started a program focused on girl child labor in Andhra Pradesh, including girls involved in beedi making. The project will directly impact the lives of 1500 girls over the next 3 years.

You + Plan =

 7,435 girls in child support groups,
269 child protection committees formed,
211 girls in vocational training,
650 boys and girls enrolled in school,
200 families supported by the government employment act,
a new secondary school and,
One bright future for Shanu!

Thank you! Your continuous support is critical. Learn more about Plan’s Because I am a Girl India program.

*Name has been changed to protect her identity.