children bodoland

 

“I love to go to school but I don’t know why my parents do not allow me to attend School” shared a ten year old boy from Pakhriguri village in Chirang district, Assam. Pakhriguri is one of the most affected villages by the conflict that broke out between the Bodo and the Muslim communities in July 2012. It led to massive destruction of life, livelihood and properties.

 

The conflict had a significant bearing specially on the lives of the children and it is impeding their development. In the aftermath of conflict most of the natives are gripped by fear and consequently they are barring their children from attending school. Some Families with better financial condition sent their children to hostel or to relatives’ house in nearby cities in a bid to ensure safe refuge for their children and also to continue their education. However, for children hailing from economically weaker families, whose parents are unable to afford the same, future looks gloomy and uncertain as post conflict they are not able to continue their education.

 

Most of the school buildings are also damaged and all these factors together have led to an alarming increase in the drop out ratio of the children. The government institutions like the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) centres have also become mostly dysfunctional   leading to the children being deprived of nutritional diet. Furthermore, the loss of livelihood has reduced the income of the households and it has directly affected the food requirement of the families. As an agrarian society, the community used to consume varied vegetables and other food items as part of their diet. But now the situation has changed drastically and one can observe that the community is dependent only on the basic food items such as rice and dal; sometimes the quantity is also too insufficient to meet the need of the entire family. A large number of people also lost their livestock, which adversely impacted the availability of milk at the household level.

 

An atmosphere of mistrust and uncertainty is still highly prevalent among the natives. The fear and insecurity is so deep that people from different communities even after so many months post conflict do not share the common public spaces. The children who do not even understand the meaning of conflict is not allowed to speak to the children from other communities. There are many children from affected families and communities who are growing up with the same question in their mind, “Why our parents do not allow us to go to School”?    

 

IGSSS under its intervention ‘Ethnic Conflict Emergency Response in Lower Assam’ is providing psychosocial support to address the trauma and stress in families and individuals who were affected by the conflict. The programme is implemented in Assam and Mizoram and it is supported by European Commission for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO) and Dan Church Aid (DCA).