Jamunamathur (tribal hill region) 75 kms North West of Tiruvannamalai is notorious for child trafficking. Due to a lack of schools or teachers or because the schools are too far away with no transportation available to reach the schools, children of this region do not receive a continuous education.

Child labour brokers come to this region and speak to families and convince them to send their children to work to make money. Children are trafficked to be used mostly for field work for pollinating cotton plants by hand in Tamil Nadu; for working in the bamboo forests of Kerela; for working in the mines of Karnataka. The children are taken away from their families, are completely exploited and abused.

From 2006, Tdh Core operated a child emergency service centre at the Tiruvannamalai main bus station and rescued more than 200 children from the Jamunamathur region from trafficking. All the rescued children were handed over to the Government, who returned them to their parents. However, we continued to find some of the same children again, at the Tiruvannamalai bus station; their parents sending them out again for work.

We then realised that we needed to step in to help these children directly. Therefore, in April 2010 we created the Sustainable Tribal Educational Program (STEP).

First we went to the Tribal regions to educate the parents and the community on the various exploitations and abuses their children suffer from the trafficking. Next we mainstreamed some of the rescued children by putting them in to private schools, paying for their education and their accommodation in  hostels. Other rescued children we returned to their villages and we provided transportation, so they could reach their schools and continue their education.