February 8, Simkot: Most of the children in villages in this mountainous district are compelled to sell firewood in the district headquarters, Simkot, for a square meal a day. The economic condition of their parents is so poor that the children have to carry loads to supplement family earning.
Although the rote to the district headquarters is covered by snow, the children are seen carrying loads of firewood on their back to sell it. Most of these children are from Dandaphaya, Simkot Rural Municipality-7, which is close to the district headquarters.
These children say that their families would have nothing to eat if they did not sell firewood and earn some money. Although they have to go to school on other days, they have been working on Saturday, a public holiday, to supplement the family income.
So, it is not unusual to see most of the children from Dandaphaya carrying loads of firewood to the district headquarters every Saturday. With whatever money they earn from selling firewood, they buy school stationeries besides spending on buying foodstuff.
The children also use their yaks for carrying the firewood. It is said one bundle of firewood fetches Rs 500 to 1,000. Some of the children also barter firewood for rice grain.
There is a high demand for firewood in Simkot especially during winter because of more than 12 hours of disruption in power supply, said Raj Bahadur Bohara, a local hotelier.
He said people including children not only from Dandaphaya and Chauganphaya but other villages as Maja, Chhipra, and Yangchu of neighbouring Kharpunath Rural Municipality also sell firewood in the district headquarters.