Shusmita is studying in Grade 1 this year. Comparing her last year results with this year's, she has improved a lot in her studies. Shusmita was weak in her studies and had to struggle a lot to improve but now she has shown tremendous improvement in her first term examination. She scored a pass percentage of 67.75%, securing first division and ranked 14th in her class. Shusmita is in good health.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
In August I had the opportunity to visit Mysmallhelp Nepal while filming a documentary about child labor. The organization's President Raju was kind enough to show me some places around Kathmandu where children were working. We visited children turning bricks, making food, washing dishes, and fixing trucks.
As with most of my experiences interacting with working children and their families, owners, and other interested parties, the situations were complicated. The working kids who allowed me to film them were full of smiles and joy even as they undertook a life that would no doubt continue a cycle of poverty that cripples their livelihoods.
In this sense, the moral situation is complicated for an outsider to really grasp. I spent most of my time with children who worked as domestic laborers in the homes of rural landlords or urban professionals. I was consistently told by owners that they treated their working children well and that their nutrition and level of education was superior than they would otherwise receive at home in their villages. The parents who sell them make the same claim.
The child rights activists counter with a rights argument--that children deserve better than the options that are presented, that they should not have to choose between two bad options and that the situation needs to be changed. Activists tell stories of horrible living situations and abusive treatment. Some call for better monitoring to resolve the problem and others call for outright ban. Perhaps the most important voice in understanding the problem is that of former child laborers. They speak of a painful disconnect from their families, a lack of love being a fundamental loss, and a sense of injustice in that their lots were decided not by poverty but by centuries old social injustices perpetrated against certain ethnicity and castes. They feel that even any gains for children who are owned will leave them feeling psychologically inferior. Their strategy is broad and decidedly long-term; it is about upward social mobility of a people, not just the short-term livelihood levels of individuals.
Regardless of the complications of harms, the resolution to the problem of child labor remains uncomplicated. Education. High quality, free, and compulsory education. If enforced by the state, then child labor will eventually disappear. The political blockage of Nepal's national government has no clear end in sight but it is the responsibility of NGOs, INGOs, and the people of Nepal to push the government toward this goal. Because it is not just a goal that will help this group or that, it is also a crucial stepping block to a more just society and a more economically developed nation.
- by Kan Yan
Harvard Law School
Posted by Mysmallhelp at 10:59 PM
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
Posted by Mysmallhelp at 5:38 AM