Sana Britto, from Doha, Qatar, just turned 13, and is studying in the VIII Standard. She is the daughter of Mr. & Mrs. John and Denzil Britto from Thottam-Kemman areas of Udupi. A young and responsible teenager, she demonstrates an amazing level of intellectual maturity, and has come up with an article on a major issue that dominates the modern world, especially our society ? the issue of CHILD LABOUR. Sana has been winning prizes in singing and is at present the Choir Leader of the Doha Parish?s St. Don Bosco Children?s Choir.
The last of the final examinations were over and Dad confirmed a day earlier that we were leaving for Mangalore for our holidays. My other classmates and friends too were equally gleeful as they boasted of their own travel plans, some to European countries and some to the East. As expected, our flight arrived at our destination in time and just as we cleared the customs and immigration formalities and got out of the airport something stuck me. A small boy with a torn shirt and shabby pants offered to carry my little suitcase to the waiting car. I asked him why, as I could carry it myself. He said, ?Amma gave me just two rupees and I can buy some Idlis for my little sister sitting over there." I became inquisitive and asked him "Don’t you have a father or mother? The little boy tearfully said "No, they died when we were small."
As our car then throttled across fields and valleys, my mind started pondering as to why should this boy work by struggling to carry a suitcase when he too could have, like me, looked forward to play with relations and friends. Then it stuck me "maybe he has, but he cannot, because his priority is to feed his sister and himself. "
After reaching our home and freshening up and enjoying gulping up a couple of Tender Coconut (juices and the tasty pulp), I tried to rest it out for sometime but the whole afternoon and then came the night?..I could not get an answer?.I just could not reason out as to why this little boy and his sister had to work and not enjoy their childhood like any other child or like me?..???? The question that shook me completely was "If God has created all of us in the same way?why can?t He ensure that all of us also live our childhood in the same way."
As days passed and I accompanied my parents here and there all around on our way, I could see so many children on the road, begging for money, asking for food, working in fields, restaurants, small tea and food stalls, working in garages, ironsmith shops, brick kilns, bakeries, shoe repair shops, and in many houses rolling beedies inhaling the tobacco dust?. etc. Many children in this world are starving!! During one of the wedding parties, my heart melted as I noticed small children sorting out in the dustbin, and looking for small pieces of meat or little rice or any other leftover food stuff and even consuming them with joy?..And sometimes we are forced to think; why does God permit all this to happen? Why does God not protect all his children alike? Doesn’t he love them anymore?? But we can’t totally blame God because sometime, somewhere we too are responsible for all this.
All of us know that still somewhere in rural areas where people don’t have food to eat and water to drink, children start working at a very young age. Many children are forced by their parents to work in factories, and as a result they grow up as illiterate. They live a very difficult life. "We can do only one thing and that is pity them". This is usually the sentence which most of us say and curse the government. But what do we do?? Do we actually donate anything? May be sometimes?.just some amount of money and then we are satisfied… But is the problem solved? Do you think that child labour can be abolished that easily? NO!! In fact we make it even more worse because the parents or the owners of the children think that if people pity the children they might get even more money and make them work harder than ever, and some unscrupulous people even kidnap children, maim them and then send them out to beg and earn at their cost.
Can we stop this? Yes surely we can? by many means like, creating awareness among people. Protesting against those people who send their children to work. Insisting that the government apply strict laws against such people. Opening welfare homes for rehabilitation. And the most important thing is to provide free education for poor children. Like we hear in the state of Tamil Nadu where healthy midday meals are provided free for every child who attends school as an incentive, even in remote rural places.
"But what can we ourselves do in this situation?" If this is the question on your mind then I think we can solve it. We can surely go and impart our knowledge to those children. We go on vacation to China, Japan, New York etc for vacation but instead of that if we just go and spend some time with those children, the peace of mind we get is just unexplainable. We can sponsor a child for his/her education so that they too can become like one of us.
Many children complain that we don’t get this and we don’t get that. Sitting at the dining table we make a fuss saying we don’t want this or that but let?s wait for a minute and just think about those children. Do they get even one percent of what we get? No, and that’s why we say "Be happy for what you have got and don’t complain." Thank and pray to God that you will never have to live like one of them.
And by reading this, if anyone wishes to help a child for his/her education, then my purpose of writing this article will be fulfilled!!!
Author: Sana Britto- Qatar