Anusaya Padaval is about to work in a rice field in a little hamlet of the Tamkhind village. There are 7 primary tribal Adivasi groups in Palghar, with Varli being the largest of them.
Adivasi is a term for indigenous populations that have existed before other communities. These girls are from a school in an Adivasi area in the Palghar district.
A neighborhood child locks eyes with lens.
Neighborhood children: shy of the camera but curious to be caught in a frame.
Lalita Bhoir, 33, poses with her mother and husband outside their house. On her life thus far: "I came ahead with my education. Everyone should learn because schools open up opportunities. You can be free of other people's expectations, independent and self-reliant. I was able to improve my life."
The view from Lalita's house.
Their newly built home is still in the midst of construction.
Lalita's 3-year-old son will definitely receive an education because of the positive impact it has had on his family, she said.
Lalita now works as a teacher in a government school, where she receives a full salary. Although it is difficult at times, she wants to help children in her community to seek better lives through education.
55-year-old Vatsala Padvale works in the fields, earning only 120 rupees ($2) a day for her hours outdoors.
Kashinath Kumbhare, 47 years old, sits outside his home. A former carpenter, he now works in the field. On education in the Adivasi community: "Because of education, everything is changing. Many of our customs and traditions have become lost because of new technologies and other developments. But in the end, man has to keep going forward."
Vrushabh Dahapsi, aged 11, wants to become a policeman when he grows up.
Kirti Vartha is an Adivasi social worker who works to improve the Adivasi community. "I teach my own two girls the basic skills every Adivasi person should know: speaking their language Varli, climbing trees and mountains, and treating men and women equally without any assumptions."
The classic and famous Varli paintings. The paintings are more than drawings-- they are a language.
Young girls collect water for their families from a pond that fills up with water after the rain hits the village. This water is usually not clean, yet people walk to and from the pond to bring water back home, as there are no other facilities nearby.
During the rainy months, women in this community typically tend to the rice fields, collect wood and help carry goods to trucks. They also care for their young.
A woman comes back from the streams with water for her family.
A young girl walks to school.
Every time I took out my camera, the villagers would run away laughing. Not these kids. They just stared back, defiantly.
Dr. Sunil Parhad is a medical officer in a government hospital in Palghar district. He believes the Adivasi are vastly misunderstood by general society: "People don't focus on who the Adivasi are as a people. They only see them as farmers who have no culture, who resort to alcohol to survive."
"Destruction is happening in the name of development," says Sanjana Mankar, head of the village council in Tamkhind. "New constructions and developments are destroying the nature, which in turn disrupts the Adivasi community."
A poster we saw at the Adivasi community's main office center. Roughly translated: We are the government in our village. The forest, land and water belong to our people."
Four junior-school girls giggle at the camera. Today I spent the day helping a local company and non-profit distribute school supplies to schools in the Palghar district.
Throughout the day, we visited several small ZP government schools. We interacted with the children and gave them school bags filled with basic supplies like pens and paper.
Before distribution, the children would sing songs and recite poems.
A student smiles for the camera as the children at a school welcome the distributors.
A girl sits outside her school, waiting to go home.
I visited an ashram school today, a form of boarding school the government has started to help children get an education. However, some of the children here are as young as 5. Is this education worth being so far away from family?