Monthly Archives: February 2010
Great news! Amazon has just released The Weight of Silence: Invisible Children of India on Kindle!
Now you can take the book with you on the road or on your travels, if you prefer to read electronically. With the Kindle version, you can also read the book on your computer, iPhone or iPod, or Blackberry. Many people have asked about this, and I’m happy to say that the book is now available for Kindle. You can even receive a sample of the first part of the book to download for FREE!
Kindle Books include wireless delivery – read your book on your Kindle within a minute of placing your order.
Don’t have a Kindle? Get yours here.
Earlier this month I wrote a post about the church missionaries in Haiti who had been detained on trafficking charges for attempting to take children out of the country illegally.
In India, recently such actions have come under more intense scrutiny, with a rising number of child traffickers disguising themselves as missionaries in order to gain trust. Northern India is a region of the country with a large Christian population, and traffickers are exploiting this in order to present themselves as evangelists or missionaries who promise a better future for children.
It is believed that the children, aged from around six to 15, are being taken to unregistered children’s homes where they are kept in poor conditions and made to do menial work like cooking and laundry. There have been reports of children dying in suspicious circumstances and of others being molested and abused.
“These institutions exploit religion to make money. With many of them not registered with the government, the homes escape scrutiny,” Vidya Reddy of Tulir of the Centre for Prevention and Healing of Child Sexual Abuse was quoted as saying by Times of India. You can read the full story here.
In other, more uplifting news, some children in India have taken it upon themselves to conduct studies and report to the UN on the status of child rights in the country. Since 1992, the Indian government is required to submit a report on child rights to the U.N. After waiting more than a year to be heard and accounted in this report, at least 27 children from the state of Gujurat took matters into their own hands, surveying more than 700 children and writing their own report.
This alternative report focused on four predominant children’s rights: right to survival; right to develop; right to protection against exploitation and right to participation. Children across state complained that doctors were missing from the government clinics in their community; shared their frustration against caste discrimination in schools. They were also agitated due to inefficiency in distribution of school meals and sanitation on school campuses.
Surely this strong action to ensure that their voices are heard is a step in the right direction, for demanding the rights to which they are entitled.
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.