Neeraj Murmu, who was freed from the shackles of child labour by Nobel Peace Laureate Kailash Satyarthi, grew up to be chosen for the highest accolade a young person can achieve. At the young age of 21, Murmu was conferred with the prestigious Diana Award 2020 for fighting against child labour and sending many children to schools.
Hailing from Giridih district of Jharkhand, Murmu used to work at mica mines. In 2011, he was rescued by Kailash Satyarthi's Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA). After his rescue, Murmu attended school and pledged to end child labour in his village.
His village became a child-friendly village (Bal Mitra Gram), a pertinent programme of Kailash Satyarthi Children’s Foundation.
Neeraj Murmu went on to set up a local school to ensure that all children got access to education. Murmu provided education facility to 200 underprivileged children in his village. He rescued 20 child labourers from mica mining and enrolled them in his school.
P Nagasayee Malathy, the Executive Director (Programmes) of Bal Mitra Gram said, "We are proud that he has taken up great initiatives such as promoting education among former child labourers. He is a role model for many children in our BMGs where each child is a strong leader and are empowered to assert their rights and fight for their village development alongside adults".
While sharing his own experience of child labour in his classes, Murmu encourages children to think about their aspirations and motivates them to pursue their education in a state like Jharkhand, where the school dropout rate is high.
Murmu led several rallies and campaigns aimed at highlighting the importance of education. This caused a spike in enrollments in local government schools. Some of the children are now empowered and aspire to usher positive change in their respective villages in Giridih.
The 2020 Diana Award is instituted in the memory of the late Princess of Wales. The award is conferred by a charity and has the support of the late princess' two sons, the Duke of Cambridge and the Duke of Sussex.