Meera Khoya, child labourer passes Class 10

Meera Khoya, 16, has just cleared her Class 10 exams, scoring 54%. Teens her age may be relaxing now, glad to be done with the ordeal of board exams. Meera, however, counts 20 rupees carefully as she hires an auto.  She is headed not to meet friends but to a construction site, where, for the next eight hours, she will carry bricks on her head to earn Rs 200 a day.

That’s not the most grueling part of her routine.  Since she turned eight, Meera has woken up at  4.30 in her village near Ranchi, done household chores, and then, on alternate days, attended a small private school or worked as a daily wage earner.   She then headed home to help her mother out in the kitchen before squeezing in two hours with her books before going to bed.

” I want to be a police officer”, says Meera, at the construction site, her head wrapped in a blue dupatta, a flimsy shield from the searing sun. Despite her tremendous accomplishment, reality holds her plans in check. ” I could be a doctor but I don’t have money, so I’ll be a cop.”

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