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Children...the most vulnerable


Malnutrition and the resulting anaemia is quite widespread among the children, and this results in fatigue, vision problems, learning difficulties, impaired concentration, memory problems and poor school performance, without taking into account that for children below the age of 5 malnutrition can result in extreme consequences. Complications during pregnancy (worsened by malnourished mothers and difficult life conditions) and the lack of health facilities, cause extremely high neonatal mortality rates, moreover, as reported by our local partners, frequent errors during childbirth often cause brain damage and permanent disability for newborns.

Moreover, malnourished children often have weak immune system, are often sick, and in areas without hospitals and health clinics or where a medicine can cost the equivalent of three months’ salary, health is more precious than gold, and a simple illness can put  these children’s lives at risk.

Image by Tucker  Tangeman
Image by Hanna Morris

Lacking a simple life and enough incentives and encouragement, many children drop out of primary school. The parents, mainly illiterate, constrained by daily needs, accept that their children drop out of school to help them in house work and be able to rely on two extra hands.  However, child labour is an even greater problem than we can imagine because children are forced to migrate to work in hotels, shops, small industries, rice fields, or as street vendors, mostly in cities, thus leaving the family and village life. However, at this point, once they are far from home, the dividing line between work and exploitation is truly too thin. The children are at risk of falling in the hands of ruthless criminals who cripple or blind them so that they may begin city streets, or even worse sell them for organ trafficking: in the areas where we operate too many children disappear without a trace. Moreover, girls undergo particularly harsh working conditions, based on the Sumangali Scheme, which forces them to work in textile factories for 12 hours a day for three years, in unhealthy conditions, but actually almost none of them reach the third and last year of work:  suffering from respiratory diseases, only very few survive.​


In India, Interlife’s work focuses on the disadvantaged communities of the untouchables, the Dalit and Valayars, who are totally marginalised. 
However, unfortunately it is not only social discrimination, associated with poverty and the caste system, but also gender discrimination to have negative impacts in the context in which we are working. Indeed, in these areas girls suffer discrimination at different levels: in a gender discrimination perspective, which always favours the sons, the girls are forced to renounce their education to help the family, look after younger brothers and sisters, eat less compared the male members of the household, accept the Sumangali Scheme, are victims of infanticide and selective abortion, or pay with their lives the poverty of their families due to the terrible "bride burning" (a cruel phenomenon, still practiced, which involves that the child-bride is burned alive if the husband or his family consider her dowry insufficient), without taking into account the daily dangers in which girls run into even only going to school.

Image by Hanna Morris


The poorest girls suffer from abuse and violence every day and, despite the fact that the law prohibits early marriage, the parents, fearing that their daughters are not safe or may be dishonoured if they don’t get married immediately, generally try and find a husband for them at the onset of puberty, normally between the age of 11 and 15, if not before. However, this entails many traumas and problems for the girls, who often die during pregnancy or during delivery.


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