By DAVE BAKER
WORLD DAY AGAINST CHILD LABOR
June 12 is World Day Against Child Labor. The event, organized by the International Labor Organization, is aimed at mobilizing people against child labor, especially its worst forms such as enslavement, separation from families and exposure to danger. There are activities all around the world to raise awareness about child labor.
KIDS TAKING ACTION
Iqbal Masih was sold into slavery to work at a carpet factory in Pakistan from age four to 10. Then he became an activist with the organization Bonded Labor Liberation Front and a public speaker on behalf of child laborers.
At 13, he was killed as he traveled near his village. Students at Broad Meadows Elementary School in Quincy, Massachusetts, who had heard Iqbal speak at their school in 1994, formed a campaign to fight to end child labor.
Read about their work at: www.mirrorimage.com/iqbal/
PEOPLE TAKING ACTION
The RUGMARK Foundation works to end child labor in the carpet industry and to provide educational opportunities to children in South Asia. The organization inspects and certifies rug-making companies as child labor free.
GOVERNMENT TAKING ACTION
An initiative in Brazil called Bolsa Familia (“family scholarship”) rewards families with a little money every month that their child has perfect attendance at school. This encourages children to get an education and at the same time helps families make up for money they are not earning because their kid isn’t working anymore. Eleven million families a year are helped by Bolsa Familia.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
• Write a letter to your Congress members telling them that you think the United States should do everything in its power to bring an end to child labor. Go to www.visi.com/juan/congress/ to get e-mail addresses.
• Form a student club like a “No Child Labor Club.” Invite speakers or watch movies about child labor, write letters to officials, create skits or videos about what you’ve learned. Raising awareness is an important step toward making changes.
• Learn more about the causes of poverty and inequality that lead to child labor and work