BrothersColor

By JUDI CHENG

More than twenty-five years ago, a toxic gas leak at a factory in India killed 10,000 people. The chemical company never finished cleaning up. IndyKids talked to two brothers in New York City, Akash Mehta, age 12, and Gautama Mehta, age 15, who are doing something about it.

IndyKids: Tell us about what happened to the people of Bhopal, India in 1984.

Gautama: Union Carbide, an American multinational corporation, set up a pesticide factory in India. On December 2, [1984] a toxic chemical, methyl isocyanate (MIC), leaked and 10,000 people were killed instantly in one night. MIC seeped into the ground and poisoned the water. Children are still being born with birth defects from the disaster.

IndyKids: What did you decide to do?

Akash: We started Kids For a Better Future (KBF) four years ago to help other kids around the world, like in Bhopal, the Congo, Afghanistan and even homeless kids in New York City.

IndyKids: Tell us more about the people of Bhopal.

Gautama: Bhopal is a poor city. Warren Anderson, the CEO of the company [Union Carbide] at the time, is rich and old now. The U.S. government has done nothing to make him face justice. KBF brought an arrest warrant to his law offices in a protest. We went to Bhopal and met with the victims and their families. KBF raised $12,000 for a health clinic in Bhopal, to help provide medical care to victims of the disaster.

IndyKids: What would you suggest to other kids who want to help?

Gautama: Find a cause. Start small. Act locally. Raise money. Focus on spreading awareness, especially among children. Make flyers and hand them out. You’ll find that the human connection made between you and those you help is very satisfying.

For more information about the Bhopal disaster, go to:

www.bhopal.org: The Bhopal Medical Appeal

www.bhopal.net: the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal

www.kidsforabetterfuture.org: Kids for a Better Future

Watch a YouTube video of Kids for Better Future’s visit to the Dow Chemical office, December 2, 2009