Escape to hope

By Josh Wright

overcoming_photo1It’s difficult to perceive lifestyles that are different from the relatively privileged ones that many New Zealanders live. Although not perfect, the rights of children are strongly enforced in our country and this helps towards creating a safe and supportive society for us to grow up in.

This is not true in many parts of the world. Every day, across the globe, 250 million children (73 million under the age of 10!) go to work. These child labourers commonly work 12-18 hour days, for little money and are often forced to work in dangerous environments. They are likely to receive very little or no education. These children may work to contribute to the family income. Some children are used as debt bondage and work in order to pay off their parent’s loan. Others are orphans who lost parents to HIV/AIDS.

In India, although there is governmental policy which makes employing children under the age of 14 illegal, loop holes exist (or the law is just ignored) and there are an estimated 30-50 million child labourers through out the country.

One of those children was ten-year-old Lavanya, who was sent by her parents to serve as a maid and errand-runner to a family who lived eight hours drive away from her hometown. Her parents gave away their daughter in exchange for $132.00 US dollars a year. Lavanya was beaten by her employers and for two years was made to work from 6am to 9pm.

Talk about overcoming adversity! Lavanya decided this couldn’t go on and used tips given secretly to her by house guests to buy a train ticket and escape to the Indian city of Nellore. Here she encountered a worker for Kalaiselvi Karunalaya Social Welfare Society, an organisation that works with runaway street kids. Lavanya was supported to return to her hometown and family and is no longer working, but instead, she is receiving proper schooling.

Lavanya has hope for the future again.

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