Child Labor is a huge problem in India, predominantly amongst the poor such as those in the slum areas where the Sai Maa Vishnu Shakti Trust (SMVST) offers its Just One feeding program for children. Today, June 12, 2015, is the end of a week long collaboration between our partner ASMITA and the Sai Maa Just One program to bring awareness to this issue.
From June 5th until June 11th, ASMITA and Just One conducted a feeding program in different slum neighborhoods, with ASMITA educating the villagers and Just One providing bread and snacks for the children.
Today ASMITA has organized a rally as the culmination of the awareness program, which will conclude at their offices. More than 100 children representing many of the slum areas supported by Just One are participating in this rally. There is also a street play to entertain and educate passersby on the Child Labor issue and the street actors soon have many in the crowd, especially the children, in laughter as they explore this serious issue. The Varanasi Labor Commissioner then offers his blessing and the rally moves towards the ASMITA offices. However an unexpected monsoon rainstorm soon sees the primary concern become getting the children safely to ASMITA and out of the rain.
Arriving at the office of ASMITA, with all the children accounted for, the Just One distribution of food commences. The children are each given a loaf of bread, fruit and sweets that can be taken back and shared with their families. Despite the fact that the weather conditions are less than ideal and the rally largely rained out, there is a sense of accomplishment and the joy and pride on the children’s faces reflect this strongly back to me.