Being part of a campaign that brings focus on something as complex as child labor is a hard thing to do. Not because the campaign doesn’t sell. It sells. In the world of non-profit organizations, Child Labor is a very sexy campaign.
The difficulties lies in coming to terms with the dichotomy between the public face of the campaign and one’s private experiences with child labor. Especially here in India.
For all those who’ve lived or visited India, it is common knowledge that children living below the poverty line can be found working in all sorts of occupations. Domestic helpers, rag-pickers, cooks, chai-wallas, sweepers are all viable occupations for a child below the age of 14. Child laborers are so ubiquitous that pretty soon one stops to notice that these are just children. Children who should be in school. And in that cloak of invisibility they remain.
So how does one reconcile these two worlds? The sanitized world of the campaign and the inter-connected, ever complicated real world. How does one raise money in support of schools that help decrease the incidence of child labor while glazing over the fact that the 18-year old girl who helps my nearly immobile grand-parents has been at her job for the past 5 years and has had limited schooling. Does the inability to do so render the campaign incomplete? A sham?
I don’t think so. This dichotomy has made all of us in the WAH team try and make this campaign as sensitive to reality as possible. Right from protecting the children’s privacy in the images we use to providing a section that helps volunteers and donors go Beyond Donations.
My inability to take immediate action in the cases of child labor I encounter, does not take away from the fact that the 11 featured projects are doing phenomenal work under immense hardship. Their work is making a significant impact in the communities where they operate. They are my inspiration to be the change I want to be. Let them also be yours.
Work An Hour.