I’m so happy to have Shelley Seale contributing here.
Her last post, “Children as Chattel: Child Labor & Trafficking in India“, is worth a serious read and reflection. I commented on it, stating that one of the paragraphs haunted me. It was this paragraph:
“Child laborers and prostitutes exist in such large numbers for a very simple, yet horrific, reason: they are cheap commodities. Children cost less than cattle; a cow or buffalo costs an average 20,000 rupees, but a child can be bought and traded like an animal for 500 to 2,000 rupees. They can be paid the least, exploited the most, and due to their largely invisible status have virtually no power against their oppressors.”
It is horrific at a level I’m unable to get me mind around. Since Shelley is there, seeing it, feeling it, I asked her, “How does the average American begin to help? How can they effectively create change?”
She responded in an email to me. With her permission, I would like to share it with you here.
I understand your concern and the feeling of being overwhelmed by the horror of it. Honestly, I feel the same way. Yet, there are many things that the average American, halfway around the world, can do to help bring about change to this “industry.” The very first step is awareness, which people are actively taking when they choose to read articles like this and blogs like yours, instead of turning away. In the words of Albert Schweitzer: “Think occasionally of the suffering of which you spare yourself the sight.”
For more proactive steps, there are simple things which can keep that conscious awareness at a level at which it can help these children:
1. Be aware of where the goods you buy are coming from. Is it really worth getting something a few dollars cheaper if it is made by slave labor or children? There is a resource called “The Better World Shopping Guide” which is an ethical consumer’s guide to avoiding buying products such as ones that are made in these types of factories and sweatshops that employ child labor. You can go on their site and see the BEST and WORST companies on the planet based on a comprehensive analysis of their overall records of social and environmental responsibility for the past 20 years.
2. You can take action by signing petitions and/or financially supporting organizations that are working worldwide to end child labor. Some of them are: globalmarch.org | endchildlabor.org | earthaction.org
3. You can support individuals and NGOs such as CCD which I visited and profiled for this story. These are the real grassroots people who are working in the trenches every day to uphold the rights of children to that most simple of things: a childhood. Centre for Communication and Development
4. Write to your senators and representatives and urge them to support United Nations’ and global efforts at ended child labor, trafficking and slavery. For a website to look up your representative and contact them online, go to www.usa.gov/Contact/Elected.shtml.
Together, we CAN make this a world fit for children!
Shelley, thank you. I know everyone reading this will benefit from your insight.