The Work An Hour 2007 Challenge.

Shivani is 7 yrs old. Her parents are agricultural laborers in Jhumritalaiya, in erstwhile Bihar. They struggle to make ends meet as they are not paid even 50% of the minimum wages that they are legally entitled to. They did think about sending Shivani to the government school in their village, but decided against it because they believed Shivani’s extra income would help support their family of six. They also feel that Shivani being a girl would no matter what, one day get married and help with the household chores. Besides, the government school in their village only exists as a building with no teacher having shown up there for years.

Rising debts forces the family to go in search of better jobs during the hot summers. The family moves to Kanpur for 6 months a year to work at the brick kilns. The entire family works in the hazardous conditions of the kilns for over 8 hours a day with a small break in the afternoon. Though this job pays more it is still well below the minimum wages that Shivani’s parents are entitled to in Kanpur.

Suppose you are visiting Kanpur, and you witness Shivani fainting at the brick kiln she works for. As any concerned person, you help revive her. As you converse with Shivani’s parents, you want to know more about her and why their family is in such a predicament. Once you learn about the issues involved, you decide to help her and other kids at the brick kiln. You want to empower the kids so that they can live a life of economic and social dignity. With a group of friends you start an effort to provide education for the children.

How would you go about achieving your goal? What hurdles would you have to face ? How would you handle the challenge of providing basic education to Shivani year round and pull her out of the vicious cycle of poverty and child labor ?

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Selected responses will be posted on this website with due acknowledgment. Sixty years to this day, we won our independence. Today, lets try to win the freedom of our children. Start thinking how and bring about the change we all wish to see!