Child activist Grace Abbott once said, “Child labor and poverty are inevitably bound together and if you continue to use the labor of children as the treatment for the social disease of poverty, you will have both poverty and child labor to the end of time.” On June 12, 2013 the world will celebrate World Day Against Child Labor and recommit itself to eradicating child labor . Child labor endangers the lives of children and prevents them from accessing the educational opportunities that can truly deliver them out of poverty.
Grace Abbott's words ring true in India, where some 26.8 million children are not attending school. Many come from impoverished families that struggle to earn the basic necessities. Economic necessities push some 45.2 million of these children (14 %) to take up menial labor jobs instead of going to school. 60% of children who dropped out of school cited the need to supplement family income through household chores and domestic work, and another 30% cited the need to earn money. In order to provide for their basic needs, families have to focus on short term goals, suing their children's labor. As a result, these families remain caught in a vicious cycle of poverty.
The story of Vishal, the little magician from Jaipur, is typical of many children caught in the cycle of poverty and illustrates how Akshaya Patra's innovative school lunch program is changing the equation for over 1.3 million under-privileged children. At one time you could find Vishal performing magic tricks in the streets of Jaipur. His mother, who works as a day laborer, says “I am forced to send my children to earn. Every parent has a dream, but my day-to-day thoughts are all about feeding our hungry stomachs. Earlier I would tell him to work the entire day, but because he gets good food and at the same time learns some lessons, I allow him to attend school most of the days.” She hopes that Vishal doesn’t lead a life of hardship and hopes that education will transform his life.
Your support of Akshaya Patra can make a difference in the lives of children by providing them with meals that act as an incentive for them to come to school, instead of to work.
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