Kathmandu, January 2:

Fifteen-year-old Ishwore Dhimal found the best place to secure his hard-earned money that pays him interest too. His last visit to his village in Sindhupalchok has been the most delightful one in the last three years, as he could take home Rs 7,000.

The opening of the Child Development Bank (CDB) in Patan Daubahal has helped child labourers like Dhimal to save their savings everyday.

As a porter he earns Rs 200 a day on an average, but in the past he could hardly save because money used to be spent on unwanted expenses and sometimes robbed by junkies.

Gita KC, facilitator of the CDB, said child labourers were motivated to work hard, save more and even plan their future activities. The accounts can be opened with Rs 10, which can be deposited on the daily basis or any time when they have money at their convenience. As an incentive, the bank distributes interest at 10 per cent rate every three months.

With a seven-member organising committee of the children themselves, the bank is divided into advance committee and management committee. Most members borrow money to meet their educational expenses. Members who have a deposit of up to Rs 1,000 are eligible to borrow Rs 2,000 at the rate of 12 per cent interest after the approval of the advance committee.

Started in 2005 with 78 members, the bank now has 127 members ranging from children working in mechanical sector, restaurants, brick kilns and porters and the total deposit amounts to Rs 11,000.

There are six CDBs strategically located to draw child labourers in the localities like Kalimati, Gwarko, Swoyambhu, Chhetrapati, Balaju and Daubahal in Patan.

There are 1,484 child labourers who deposit in these CDBs, and the total turnover was Rs 700,000 in 2004, said Jiyam Shrestha of CONCERN. The amount is deposited in the bank in CONCERN’s account.

Shrestha said the concept was first started as saving scheme in Kalimati for child porters in 1997 and developed into the CDB in 2004. “We have set directives and policies to operate these banks and even trained child labourers to run them.” He added that after the children are above 18 years, they join youth clubs to give continuity to their savings.

He added that the CONCERN is working to expand these banks in other areas as well. “Though it is a systematic saving process, we call it a bank to give sense of responsibility to the children.”