About Us Contact Us Help




'Think Globally Act Locally' - Marking World Day Against Child Labor

Kumu Gupta

This World Day Against Child Labour, June 12th, by International Labour Organization (ILO) & 20th Anniversary of Global March Against Child Labour, I wanted to spotlight  a local group of middle school children, here in Quincy-MA who have been quietly working on this nobel goal for many years.

The students of Broad Meadows Middle School, were 1 of 6 original schools in the country, that formed a program under USAID called Operations Days Work (ODW) in 1998-1999 school year.

Under this program, they raised funds through various projects around the city like planting flowers in the local library lawn and from the money collected, chose a project to help a school in an impoverished country. Over the years, ODW-USA has raised over $250,000 and funded into existence annual projects which have helped vulnerable children in countries such as Rwanda, El Salvador, Bangladesh, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, etc.  to help themselves, empowering those children through education, job training, health care, food and hope.

But it didn’t start there. Broad Meadows students had an opportunity in 1994, to meet Iqbal Masih, a child laborer in the carpet weaving industry in Pakistan who escaped and was in Boston to receive Reebok International’s  “Youth In Action”  Human Rights Award for spreading word about child labor. Unfortunately, upon returning back home, in 1995 Iqbal was murdered for speaking out. This deeply disturbed the Broad Meadows students and they decided to raise funds to establish a school for Iqbal, in Kasur-Pakistan, so his bravery would always be remembered. This school is still open and self sufficient today. These students continued to raise funds for the school till 1998 at which time they were invited to be one of the pilot school’s for ODW program.

In 1998, upon formation of ODW, the Broad Meadows students were invited by our then Congressman William Delahunt , to be part of a congressional round table on human rights in Washington D.C. . Joining the discussion on Capitol Hill, there were other participants like the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Human Rights who were on International Steering Committee for the Global March and co-chair of the US Coordinating Committee for the Global March which was launched in Geneva at an ILO (International Labor Organization) conference,  by child activist Kailash Satyarthi. The Broad Meadows students were thus invited to be part of the very 1st Global March Against Child Labor and 4 ODW students joined Kailash Satyarthi in Geneva.

Today as we mark the 20th Anniversary of the Global March Against Child Labor, Broad Meadows students along with other ODW school children, have continued to raise funds for different projects around the world and help now Nobel Peace Laureate Kailash Satyarthi with his fight against Child Labor as well as continue to do advocacy on local and world stage for this issue, including speaking at the United Nations in New York. Broad Meadows ODW students have been chosen to be pilot for the 100 Million Campaign, in USA,  launched by Kailash Satyarthi in India at the Rashtrapati Bhavan with President Pranab Mukherjee last year.

The 100 Million campaign is a call to action for a world free of child labor, a world where all young people are free, safe and educated. The goal is to inspire 100 million young people to join together to help end child labor once and for all.

Derek Doneen, Director of a documentary called “Kailash”, winner of the Sundance Documentary Grand Jury Prize, expected to be released this Fall, had this to say about Kailash’s work on behalf of child bonded labor :

“When I first heard about Kailash Satyarthi and his work, I was shocked to learn of the pervasiveness of child slavery and labor.  There are more than 150 million children who are forced to work at the expense of their childhood – this was mind numbing to me.   I found that many of the things we buy are manufactured by children -- which means through the power of our purchases -- we can help find a solution.”

(Kailash Satyarthi picture - photo courtesy : Ron Adams, Acting Director ODW-USA &former Broad Meadows Middle School teacher (founder ODW)
2 posters - courtesy ILO )

Bookmark and Share |

You may also access this article through our web-site http://www.lokvani.com/

Home | About Us | Contact Us | Copyrights Help