Tuesday, March 30, 2010

India: Child Labor

In my government class we were assigned to present a project on a world issue. Jasmine and I chose child labor in India. Since last year I've been pretty interested in the conflict of Indian poverty and what that has resulted in. I feel that India has a beautiful history and culture, going back to Ghandi's salt march, a which influenced peaceful protest for other leaders including America's Martin Luther King Jr.

It has moved me since starting this project, with browsing the photos. What's sad is that I sense that other students feel they have to find the most shocking photographs in order to get a better grade, but its really all about the ability to relate and find the human heart beneath any of the assigned topics; such as AIDS, female mutilation, even endangered species and enviromental concerns.

But just look at these.

When I saw this, it reminded me of how it felt to be a little kid, getting suddenly lost in the grocery store and not being able to find your mom. It's that sudden fearful jolt of being alone. And some of the kids working in the factories rarely see "home", their residence is usually the factory itself, spending the night in hazardous conditions such as mines because the new shift starts in just a few hours.

In the manufacturing business, children are not provided with protection from chemicals, nor given simple equitment such as gloves and goggles to protect their developing eyes from the shards. This child is welding, and according to our research, it is most likely he will be blind by the time is 15 to 19 years old. Can you imagine not being able to see anymore after your teenage life? Can you imagine your skin being eroded and scarred from the intense heat and dangerous chemical exposure??

And because of the work hours, usually 8 hours with a small break for a meal, if there is even one provided, the children recieve no education. They aren't able to just be kids, they aren't able to live out the joy that the majority of Americans experience as a young kid. That innocence and simple happiness is distorted for them.

According to Indian government sources, there are currently 20 million child laborers in the country, but according to outside sources, there is an estimated 50 million.

I'm hoping that I can help with this situation in some way. It's been hurting me deeply, to imagine a childhood without smiles, without laughter, without love.

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