Rescued child labourers steal show at Delhi marath

Last Updated: Sunday, November 27, 2011 - 18:39

New Delhi: Among athletes, celebrities and
hundreds of enthusiasts at the Delhi Half Marathon on Sunday were
a group of rescued child labourers who braved the nip in air
to spread their message that they can too prove their mettle
given a chance.

A group of over 40 young children, including 11, who have
been rescued from the bangle industry in Firozabad, Uttar
Pradesh, participated in the half-marathon here to prove that
they also have the right and ability to become the best and
enjoy their lives like others.

"The objective behind their participation in the marathon
was to demonstrate that given an opportunity such
underprivileged children can also do what others can do," said
Dola Mohapatra, National Director of ChildFund India, which
has been working for the children engaged in the hazardous
bangle factories there.

"We are here to show the world that we can go anything
what a privileged child can do. The only thing we need to
achieve that is some support from the society," said Baby, 14,
who hails from Bhagwan Nagar near Firozabad.

Baby, who used to work for about 12 hours each day
exposing herself to hazardous fumes, was leading the group at
the marathon.

Rajeev, a 13-year-old from Indira Nagar locality of the
district, said: "I want to study more and become a teacher. My
friends also have similar dreams, but the problem is that we
have to support our families in making bangles so that we can
feed ourselves."

Rajeev started working full-time in the bangle industry
when he was only five years old. He would wake up at 4 AM and
work all day.

"I didn`t enjoy working as I had to breathe in harmful
kerosene fumes all day and apply toxic chemical on bangles,"
he said.

ChildFund has been working in Firozabad for many years to
protect children from exploitation by raising awareness of
children`s rights.

"To date, 1,500 children have been rescued. They are now
going to school and even encouraging other children to study
so that they can do something better for themselves and for
their next generation," said Bikrant Mishra, who heads the
NGO`s project in Firozabad.

"This year ChildFund is celebrating its 60th anniversary
in India, and in these years our organisation has witnessed
the evolution of civil society," said Mohapatra.

"In Firozabad also, we have seen a turnaround. People who
were dead against their children`s going to school a few years
ago are now encouraging them study more. This is what we can
say an achievement for us in bringing in awareness in them,"
he added.

PTI



First Published: Sunday, November 27, 2011 - 18:39

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