“I declare that their little lives are woven into the cotton goods they weave; that in the thread with which we sew our babies’ clothes, the pure white confirmation dresses of our girls, our wedding gowns and dancing frocks, in that thread are twisted the tears and heart-ache of little children.”
Those were the words of Mary Harris Jones, one who worked against child labor in the beginning of the 20th century. Unfortunately, even in the 21st century, the child labor menace continues to be prevalent, more so in India. From cloth Mills, construction sites, bangle factories, cracker industries, the list is endless of places where little kids work, mostly in inhuman conditions, to be a source of income to starving families. As per the 2011 census, nearly 4.5 million children aged 5-14 were involved in child labor. Oh, what joy it would give us to see, yet another child given the choice of carrying the books to school instead of bricks in the construction site. However, a startling reality is that if these children and their families are not supported for, once rescued they would end up starving or being trapped again rather than in schools.
For the millions of such children who don’t have the opportunity to to be kids, and who are losing the once-in-a-lifetime chance to be a child, let’s us pray for God’s protection on children who are vulnerable to traffickers, and for children caught in exploitative dark conditions. The next time you come across Children at Work, remind yourself that God wants to shine light into dark places. “For you are all children of light, children of the day,” says a verse in the Bible. “We do not belong to the night, or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and be sensitive to these realities around us!
We can make a difference as we see the need of a child in the neighborhood or know a source through whom you can sponsor a child. Let’s make a choice to make a difference to one such child. Let the smile spread!