Displaced by the Maoist insurgency, Nanda Bahadur Rawal of Jumla faces numerous hardships in Dharmashala, a hill station in India's Himachal Pradesh. "The situation had become unbearable so I left home to save my life," says 14-year old Rawal, shivering from the cold.
Rawal comes from Kataka Sundari village, a two-hour walk from district headquarters at Khalanga. He was a fourth grader back in the village school before migrating to India with a group of 20 other young men to escape forced recruitment in the Maoist militia. They are scared to openly admit that they left their villages because of the rebels and are hesitant to talk to strangers. "We were looted of what little we had by the Maoists," says Santa Bahadur Buda, a grade seven student from Rawal's school. "We could have starved to death."
The majority of those who were forced to leave their village can be seen selling garments in Gorakhpur, Hariyana and Punjab in India. Pale and thin, Kul Bahadur Buda looks much older than his 37 years. He worries constantly about his wife and three children back home in Jumla. "I had to flee my village to save my life," he said. Buda has met some boys as young as 12 who have left their homes to avoid Maoist recruitment.