Like millions of other migrants in India, Uma Devi and her husband left their hometown for greener pastures. The couple, who were farmers in Tikamgarh, India took an eight-hour train ride to Delhi, where Devi’s husband found work as a day laborer in construction sites.

Devi, who stayed home with her son until he was 8 months old, heard about something called Mobile Creches from neighbors — it was a free child care program for migrants.

“They told me the children get nutritious meals and that the creche is safe and healthy [for children],” Devi said.

Initially skeptical, after visiting the creche Devi felt comfortable enrolling Manoj, who was underweight at the time.

The creche provided Manoj with nutritious meals and ensured he regularly visited doctors, helping him reach an optimal weight within months. Now, Devi said the 4-year-old boy's personality and emotional intelligence have blossomed.

“He seems to have a better understanding of the world around him,” she told Global Citizen. “He went from being a shy child… to talking all the time, asking questions about everything.”

Mobile Creches, a non-profit organization, was founded to support vulnerable, excluded migrant workers in India. The first creche, established in 1969, was a tent set up in a construction site, where women cared for the children of migrant construction workers, amid the sounds of sledge hammers and bulldozers.

As of 2017, India was home to an estimated 139 million migrant workers, who typically work in informal environments such as construction, hospitality, manufacturing, and domestic work. Given the low-paying nature of these roles, migrant workers do not have many options for child care. Mothers — who are disproportionately impacted by child care duties — either do not work, need to leave their child under the care of an older sibling, or are forced to bring the child with them to work, whether in sugar fields or the cigarette rolling industry.

The creches — which operate for eight hours a day, six days a week — focus on four pillars: health and hygiene, nutrition, early learning, and responsive caregiving. This includes weighing children and providing special meals for those who are malnourished, ensuring they’re vaccinated and visiting the doctor for regular checkups, providing age-appropriate pre-learning activities and education, and engaging parents and community members in child development.

Read the full article about mobile nurseries by Jacky Habib at Global Citizen.