Rescued child labourers steal show at Delhi marath
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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.


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

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