HETAUDA, June 26: On Monday afternoon, forty people of 10 families, including women and children, of Sunachai-2 Khayerghari, Makawanpur boarded a bus to Birgunj. The group, just like the one before them, was headed for Kerala of India to work at poultry farms.
The villagers said they decided to go to India as they could not get work either in the village or nearby cities. “Here, it is a question of our survival,” Rupa Sangtaan, 23, said, adding, “In India, we can earn enough money to celebrate Dashain.”
The bus she took, carrying her 12 months baby, was packed like sardines. There were about a dozen women with small babies in their lap, who, like Rupa, were heading towards India for employment.
“We have been promised Rs 6,000 a month by a poultry farm in Kerala,” Jit Bahadur Thing, 27, said. He was with his wife and a three-year-old daughter. “Even I´ll find a job in India. So we won´t have to live apart. We think we´ll have enough money to celebrate Dashain nicely,” Jit´s wife Saraswati, said.
There are 112 households in Khayerghari village, but it looks deserted. “Only old people have been left behind as others have gone to India to earn,” said Buddhi Thing. His wife Nirmala said that she´d feel happy if she could earn extra income for the family rather than live alone in village. According to Nirmala, if all members of the family earn, they can celebrate Dahain happily.
They expected to reach Mazaffarpur by train on Tuesday from where they´d take another train to Kerala. There are hundreds of poultry farms in Kerala, where a lot of people from the village have been working. “Owners of the poultry farms in India have asked us to bring as many workers as we can,” said Jit Bahadur.
“If we do not go to India, we have no other means of survival?" said 24-year-old Bir Bhadur Lama. "There is no development in the village.”
Like people of Khayerghari, the people from nearby villages have also gone to India seeking employment. They return only during Dashain to celebrate with their family members. The school in the village is full of examples of youths dropping out before primary level.
“Due to their early marriage, most youths are forced to give up studies and search for employment,” Suntalimaya Tamang, who had come to bid farewell to her relatives, said.