The Dalit have lived in the Terai for generations and have an intimate knowledge of agriculture in the area, the majority is landless. They work the land owned primarily by the upper castes and in most cases are paid in kilograms of food rather than currency. A man works the land as the sun rises in Dhodhana in Siraha District.
In some areas of the Terai up to 90% of Dalit are landless. Walking several hours from their remote village, three Dalit carry bundles of firewood to sell in the dusty markets of Lahan.
Dalit men are unskilled laborers. Because they are landless, they end up working odd jobs that pay less than $1 a day. Men dig up earth and move it for a wealthier family in a neighboring village.
A group of Dalit sit in a tractor-pulled wagon. Most have spent the day working in the market of Lahan. Without the wagon, it would take many of them hours to return to their remote villages.
Four-year-old Dalit girl in Gobindapur village. Most children in the village will never attend school. Without economic opportunities, families do not have enough money to pay the basic fees required for school supplies.
In early 2007 mobile citizenship units were sent out across the country. By 2008, citizenship had been extended to some 2.6 million people, many of them in the Terai. Yet, while the campaign was unprecedented and heralded, thousands in the lower castes, like Bohje, found themselves left behind. Poverty prevented many from taking time away from work and lack of access and security in parts of the Terai secluded many remote villages from campaign units, which only spent a few days in one area.
A Dalit man and his grandson rest in the morning. The man's family has lived in the Terai for over 5 generations yet he is still without Nepalese citizenship.
A Dalit man carries firewood in Dhodhana to sell in the markets of Lahan. 'Without citizenship, I cannot have a passport. Without a passport, I cannot travel outside of Nepal and work in Qatar, UAE or Malaysia, like many other people from Nepal.'
A Dalit man pays his respects to his mother who has recently passed away. Her cremation and funeral ceremony takes place in the dried up Khuti Kota River.
It is estimated that up to 80% of Dalit are illiterate in some areas of the Terai. Illiteracy among Dalit females in some areas is over 90%. Many children will never go to school.