Yadav’s family has a piece of land where mango trees were grown. His parents earned their living by cultivating this land and doing manual labor during the off-season. The family lived comfortably. All of the children went to the local government school, and the older children helped their parents with their work in the afternoons.
But diseases in two consecutive years damaged the crop, and the investment in it was lost. During the second year, there was also a hail storm. Apart from the crops that were lost that year, some of the trees themselves were damaged. To make matters worse, following these two years of losses Yadav’s father had a massive heart attack and became bedridden.
The family was in crisis.
His mother was worried and trying to figure out how to survive. Relatives and neighbors came to help in the days that followed, and one of them suggested taking Yadav to the mine to work. His mother wondered what an eight-year old boy could do in the mine, but she needed help urgently. She went to Yadav and explained that the family desperately needed help and advised him to work in the mine. He reluctantly agreed. The middleman of the mine came and paid his mother an advance of 5000 rupees (the equivalent of around $73) and took Yadav away.
Yadav’s work started as soon as he entered the mine.
His duty was to break rocks into smaller pieces. He struggled at even lifting the hammer properly, and many times it fell on his arms and legs when his aim failed. He sustained many bruises and cried out in agony. Yadav also carried rocks on his head to fill the trucks and dump in the stock yard. This work continued as he was sold from mine to mine until he came to a mine in the Prakasam district of India.
Yadav ate one meal a day that was so small he wondered if he could really call it a meal. At night, he along with the other children slept on the ground with just a torn blanket to cover his body. He was terrified of the snakes, but eventually he got used to them.
It was the abuse that he never got used to.
The supervisor made him terror stricken, and the very sight of him sent fear up his spine. This man regularly took girls into his cabin to abuse. Sometimes this supervisor and the senior workers even sexually abused him. He lowered his head in shame as there was seemingly nothing he could do, and cursed his fate. But help was coming.
Praveen and the Sylom Pastor’s Association was keeping watch over this particular mine in Prakasam. And last December they saw their chance. There was a big celebration, and all of the supervisors and security guards became very drunk and eventually passed out.
That night, 35 children were rescued from that mine in Prakasam.
All of the children were taken to one church home a little over 10 miles away. The children quivered with fear, but the pastors all assured them that there was nothing to worry about. They were fed a meal, and doctors were called to check them out. The church pastors and staff took them to read Bible stories to them and reassure them that they were deeply loved. Slowly, the children learned to trust their new church family and their faith in God began to grow. All of these children continue to be cared for in this church.
But Yadav’s story doesn’t end there. After several months, the Sylom Pastor’s field team found his parents. His father has recovered from his illness, and both parents are working hard to keep the family going. They didn’t understand the conditions of the mine work and regretted their decision to send Yadav there. So after some consideration, Yadav was taken back to his village and reunited him with his family.
After seeing his mother for the first time after two long years, Yadav ran to her and immediately started crying. His mother too. She just held him and was caressing him everywhere. His father hugged both of them, while shedding some tears of his own. After a moment, his mother fell to one of the Sylom Pastor’s field team crying. But he stopped her by saying,
“It is God who instructed to go help them. I was only doing what God asked me to.”
Yadav is now back in school and spends time in church with his friends. He loves to sing Jesus songs, and now has a very bright future ahead of him.