KANNUR: She recovered from Covid just recently. While speaking to TNIE over the phone from Delhi, she excused herself regularly to catch her breath. Still, Deepsikha Deb, 19, from Assam, who spent her life in Kannur, sounded happy and excited.
For, life was turning around for this daughter of a migrant labourer. She had joined the BA (Sanskrit) course at Delhi University. But more than that, she was happy that she would soon be taking online classes for children of migrant labourers in Kerala as part of a project of Kairos Kannur, under the supervision of Caritas India.
For Deepsikha, the daughter of Deepu Deb and Sheela Deb, life had been a continuous struggle. She was just six months old when her parents came with her to Kannur from Margharita in Tinsukia district in Assam. “Like many others, my father came to Kerala looking for job opportunities,” she said. Her childhood memories are mostly of her parents fighting.
Violence in our house was hard to endure: Deepsikha
“For a girl my age, the violence in our house was hard to endure. But like my three brothers, I too was helpless. My father was a drunkard and seemingly lived a life of his own, entirely detached from his family,” recalled Deepsikha. The continuous violence affected her mother’s mental state and her delirious outbursts destabilised the kids’ lives. Despite the trouble at home, Deepsikha secured good marks in SSLC and joined Plus Two at Chovva HSS itself. “Since I couldn’t focus during the day or at night, I would wake up at 3am to study,” she said.
She recalled that Childline officials would visit her school regularly to interact with students facing issues at home or elsewhere. “One day, I told them that I wanted to study and the atmosphere in my house was not good for that,” she said. She was then placed under the care of Caritas India through Kairos Kannur.
“When I was brought to Santhwana Bhavanam, I came to know that there are many others whose lives are worse than mine. Still, survival was tough there. I couldn’t focus much on studies,” she said. She was also forced to move from one orphanage to other.
When she was at Holy Mount, Eachur, Deepsikha got a chance to engage in Covid relief work with a group of people in Pathanamthitta. “Since I was well versed in Hindi, Assamese and Bengali, I was tasked with conducting a survey among migrant labourers,” she said. Father Paul Moonjely, executive director, Caritas India, Delhi, said they have been conducting several programmes for the welfare of migrant labourers, who are facing several issues despite the government’s support.