Eleven-year-old Kavita and Sunil, a year younger, last saw their father Mahadev four months ago, when he returned briefly to the village to attend the wedding of a relative. When leaving home again, a day after Diwali, Mahadev gave Kavita Rs350 for her and Sunil to live on for the next three months.
He had no option but to leave them to fend for themselves.
Not enough rainfall had turned the sorghum crop on his acre of land to cattle fodder. Left with no choice, Mahadev went to find work in the sugarcane fields of Astha Dhangaon in Karad, about 100 km from his village.
In his absence, Kavita has assumed the role of parent to her younger brother. For many years now, hundreds of children in this part of Mandesh, spread across six rain-deprived talukas of Satara, Sangli and Solapur districts in western Maharashtra, have been forced to live as orphans every few months,their parents travelling to find work in fields and factories hundreds of kilometres away.
Read HT’s full story on these drought orphans here.