Tuesday, June 12, 2007

World Against Child Labor Day

Somewhere in Chicago, 11-year-old Michael begs his mother to buy him a new pair of shoes... the kind with wheels on the heels, like his best friend has. Michael's mother says she doesn't have the extra money to spend on things like special sneakers with wheels. She suggests Michael try to earn part of the money for the sneakers, by getting a paper route, or helping some of the neighbors with their yard work.
"Aw, man! What about child labor laws?" complains Michael.
Contrary to what Michael thinks, not all child labor is bad for kids. In fact, the type of work Michael's mom has suggested, like a paper route or odd jobs, can teach Michael about responsibility, and about the "value of a dollar"... and in the end, he'll be able to get his new sneakers, and feel great about himself for having earned them!
Meanwhile, in Tanzania, 9-year-old Joseph doesn't know what "child labor" is. Joseph works in a gem mine. Each day he descends under the ground and digs through narrow tunnels, along with other children, searching for gems. It is hard to breathe under there, and he has only a small flashlight to lead the way. Joseph does this for eight hours each day. Often Joseph is scared at work. He knows some children who have gotten badly injured, or even died, when tunnels have collapsed with the children in them. But Joseph can't quit... he needs the earnings to help support his family.
In Pakistan, 6-year-old Laxmi doesn't know what child labor is either. All she knows is, every day she works, from the time the sun comes up until after dark, making rugs at a loom. If she doesn't work hard enough, she'll be beaten. She wishes she could go home to her parents, but they didn't have much money, so they sold her to the rug man. Besides, she couldn't leave, even if she did know how to get home... the man has chained her to this loom!
And back in the USA, not too far away from where Michael lives, 11-year-old Hector doesn't know what child labor is either. He might, if he went to school, but he isn't enrolled in school. Hector, his parents, and his brothers and sisters, are migrant workers. Hector works more than forty hours a week, in the fields, beside the other members of his family. Hector's father gets paid by the amount of crops he picks, so with all of his children helping, he can earn much more money per hour.
What those children wouldn't give to trade places with Michael... or even just to have the chance to keep their own earnings, and be able to spend it on fun things, like special sneakers, without having to worry about how they and their family would survive.
Why does child labor exist, in this day and age? The main reason is poverty. Families who live in extreme poverty are desperate enough to require all of the family members... even the youngest children... to pitch in and work. And employers who use child laborers know that they can pay children less... because, after all, they are children... but make them to the same amount of work as they would expect from an adult. Also, in many countries, schooling is not free. Families have to pay tuition for kids to go to school, and especially if a family has more than one child, it doesn't make sense for them to pay to send all of the children to school, when those same children could instead be out earning money for the family!
Here are some ideas of what you can do to help this cause.

1. Adopt A Village! Adopt a Village is a program that helps revitalize impoverished areas in other countries. They build schools, provide trained and paid teachers top teach the children, provides clean water and health care, and provides safer ways for families to earn money. Your one-time or monthly donation can help this cause! Even a one dollar donation can buy important medical supplies for impoverished people.

2. If you are in the market for a handmade rug, or you own a business that sells things like handmade rugs, buy from Rugmark. Their beautiful handmade rugs are made without any child labor, and in humane working conditions for the adults they do employ. Whatsmore, Rugmark also not only helps children escape from the world of child labor, but also reunites them from their families if they've been separated, and gives them the option of either living in a Rugmark-run boarding school, or living with their parents and attending a public or private school with Rugmark's support. Rugmark also runs health clinics and adult literacy programs.

3. Visit StolenChildhoods.org, a documentary that shows children all over the world engaged in different forms of child labor... and also highlights many different organizations that are trying to make a difference.


PandasJr said...

A few months ago I taught Annie to hang up her own clothes and put away her clean laundry. Then one day I asked her to go in and do this, and she started crying and having a fit. She came out and said, "I feel like the maid." Since then, I've slowly been teaching her how to clean and help take care of the house because I realized she hadn't even really begun to learn responsibility, she was too used to being taken care of. If only she knew how lucky she is to live in a place where she doesn't HAVE to work, go out and do hard labor to help the family survive!

Jarid & Caydon's Wishlist said...

Aww this is such a sad story. I taught Jarid to help around the house doing little things from the day he started walking. Like throwing away paper.

Melanie said...

What a sad story. Most of can't even begin to imagine.

Sue said...

I stopped by for WW, but had to comment on this. Very sad indeed!

Pearls of Wisdom said...

What a sad story my friend. Thanks for sharing.

Angel Mama ():)

amy said...

Wow, what a post! Thanks!

Qtpies7 said...

I wish my kids had a real idea of how easy their life is, not because they are bad, but because they need some empathy, and just knowledge. They all do/plan to do, mission work around the world.

Janie Hickok Siess, Esq. said...

Wordless Wednesday?

My photo is posted. Drop by!

Dawn said...

Disturbing post... I guess we're so insulated here in the US, it's always a shock to hear about things like this. :(

Happy WW!

Mine's up too! Come visit when you get a moment :)