The temperature is 40 degrees in the shade when the
children from the evening schools hold their Global Vote
in the desert. One of the voters is the Minister for Water
in the Children’s Parliament, 14-year-old Mathara Devi.
“Two months ago, there was a tiny rainfall. Since then not a drop has fallen,” she says.
Here in Rajasthan, one of the biggest problems for us children is the lack of rainfall. Our whole lives are affected by it. Without rain you can easily fall ill, because it’s hard to keep clean and find drinking water. And if it doesn’t rain, our families’ crops don’t grow and neither we nor our livestock get enough to eat.
People are forced to sell their animals, and many have to travel a long way from our poor villages to work on the land lords’ artifi cially irrigated fields. My whole family was forced to do that last year, and it was terrible. I had no friends and I couldn’t go to school since I was so far from home. But because I go to one of the Barefoot College evening schools, it was no problem for me to start again when I got back. If I had been at a normal school, they would never have accepted that. But the worst thing was when my father was beaten by the land lord and some of his men. I’m afraid of them, and I never want to go there again.
“At Barefoot College, we know how hard things are during periods of drought, and we try to work together and help each other. For example, the small amount of rain that falls on the roofs of the evening schools is drained into water tanks and can then be used as drinking water, instead of just evaporating in the heat. In villages where we have evening schools, it is getting more and more common for people to make use of as much rain water as possible. As the Minister for Water in the Children’s Parliament, I visit schools every week and check that all the children have enough clean water. If there is a shortage of water in the wells and the rainwater tanks, I report it to the Children’s Parliament. Together with Barefoot College, we then buy clean drinking water so that every student in the villages gets the water he or she needs. But that’s expensive, so we students at the evening schools are always careful not to use too much.”