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The kite march

I’m just back from the World Day Against Child Labour march on O’Connell Street. The rain held off, so some god or other must agree with us that we must put a stop to child labour.

The chalk line

I’m now partially deaf from the high-octave sound of 60 ten-year-olds singing “Do us all a favour and stop child labour/ Stop the chalk line or children’s rights will decline.”

The song was written by the children themselves. The “chalk line” refers to the line used by those who recruit child soldiers in some developing countries. If you’re taller than the chalk line-drawn on the wall of the school, you’ll be recruited. If you’re lucky enough to fall short, you’ll get to stay in school.

Leaving adults in tears

Before the kite march, we gathered in the Irish Aid Centre for the premier of the play “Be Silent Iqbal”, written and performed by the pupils of Griffeen Valley Educate Together, Lucan. The play deserves an Oscar! It had all the adults in tears.

It was about an Indian boy who goes to work in a carpet factory. It covers so many of the issues: the struggle of poor families to make ends meet; the vulnerability of parents; the demand for cheap products over ethical consumerism. It had a happy ending, showing communities standing up for their rights and putting an end to child labour.

Message to the EU

Representatives of the Concern Campaigning Academy then read out their “European Youth Against Child Labour” student declaration. It outlines what the European Union should do about child labour. The seven representatives were later invited by one of the directors of Temple Street Hospital to come up and raise awareness of child labour with the patients.

The march finished up at the spire, where we all stayed to let passers-by know that child labour exists and we need to help stop it!

Fears confirmed

The importance of our campaigning was reinforced by a report released today by the International Labour Organisation. Your can read it here. It confirms my fears that the global financial crisis could push an increasing number of children, particularly girls, into child labour. That is, of course, unless the world stands up and takes action.