Published on The Times of India, by M. Ramya, June 12, 2009.
CHENNAI: When the excited bunch of 200 school students between the age of 12 and 16 years assembled on Wednesday to take part in a simulation exercise as part of an anti-child labour campaign they were unprepared for the rude shock that awaited them behind the doors of a classroom.
Under World Vision’s Child Labour Challenge the children were given the task of making matchboxes from cardboard and paper in a place that was as badly lit and with volunteers posing as abusive supervisors and watchmen.
The children were grouped together in batches of 10s and sent into a cubicle set up in a classroom in the Corporation Middle School on Tana Street in Purasawalkam. There they were asked to do the job that many children are forced to do day in and day out …
… The children were given information on how many children were engaged in the matchbox industry, in which parts of the state, the difficulties and abuse they faced from the minute they are picked up from home in the van that takes them to the industry to the time they are dropped back. The recommendations thus derived have been submitted to Ajay Maken, Minister of State, Home Affairs, in New Delhi. (full text). (e-mail M. Ramya).