Shooting Child Slavery

Big World Magazine just published my article about former child laborers. Titled “Shooting Child Slavery,” the article recounts the story of these previous child slaves who went on to become award-winning filmmakers.

Ashikul Islam and Sahiful Mondal lived at a home for destitute boys in Calcutta. In 2004, the two 10-year-olds made a short independent film called “I Am,” which created a worldwide stir.

Their film won a Grand Prize at the International Children’s Film Festival in Athens, grabbed the attention of the Australian press, and was even featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show. “I Am,” about growing up from the childrens’ point of view, starred only other children.

It was an unlikely turn in the filmmakers’ difficult lives.

Sahiful had been put into indentured slave labor at age 4, after his father died of tuberculosis. With their mother suffering from a mental illness, this tiny boy and his siblings had to figure out how to survive. Ashikul was orphaned at four years old, and soon after began surviving by doing odd jobs at tea stalls and begging. Eventually, Ashikul worked in a leather factory.

The boys were rescued, and brought to the orphanage Muktaneer (the word means “Open Sky” in Hindi). There they began receiving four good meals a day, were given their own beds, went to school, and were allowed to play for the first time in their lives.

The story of these boys is incredibly inspiring – as are other former child laborers, such as Om Prakash, who himself became an advocate against child labor and went on to be awarded the International Peace Prize for Children.

You can read the full story at Big World Magazine.

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About Shelley Seale

I'm Shelley, a journeyer and learner of the world, freelance journalist and author, yoga chick and dog lover. I pound the keyboard from home barefoot every day, and while my boss is demanding she also occasionally lets me have the early afternoon cocktail. I think not going into an office or collecting corporate paychecks are very good ideas, though not always profitable. I have written for National Geographic, USA Today, The Guardian, Texas Monthly and CNN, among others. Neither the New York Times nor Johnny Depp have answered my letters yet. I love yoga, indie movies, wine, and books, though not necessarily in that order. I believe in karma. Mean people suck. If I could have any dream job I would like to be a superhero. I have performed a catch on the flying trapeze, boarded down a live volcano and was once robbed by a monkey in Nepal. But, I don't know how to whistle. My mantra is "travel with a purpose."

Posted on February 15, 2010, in child labor, children, India, news, poverty, shelley seale, slavery, trafficking and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Thank you for this article. Such an inspiring piece. I really wish many such kids do see light at the end of the tunnel… Child labor has been woven into the Indian fabric of life, by way of ignorance, poverty, and destitution. These kids are exploited in levels a sane mind fails to comprehend…

    I do hope we can help eradicate the problem of child labour.

    Thanks,
    Adarsh.

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