went to the "Global Leadership Convention" run by World Vision for primary school students yesterday with 4 kids from school. they were quickly thrust into a simulation of the life of a child labourer in a match stick factory in India. they were told they owed they employer 170 rupees and they had to pay back their debt by making perfect little match boxes with exactly 20 matches in each. they were told the rules in loud unfriendly terms, "you must pay back you're debt. if you need a break to go to the toilet, more debt will be added. if you need food, more debt will be added. if you make a mistake, more debt will be added. if you injure yourself, more debt will be added. no talking. no mistakes. Get to work. NOW."
then the factory 'bosses' walked around acting mean and yelling at the kids for the next two hours. one kid who's match box was rejected for being a bit wonkie ended up crying on the stairs.
it was brilliant. i had tears in my eyes myself at one point. after the simulation they showed the australian students videos of real kids in india who are child labourers. it made australian school work look pretty damn fun. World Vision then promoted the 40 Hour Famine as a solution to this problem (which gave the primary school kids i was with some well needed emotional resolution).
I genuinely hope the four kids we took went to sleep feeling they can solve the world's injustice by fasting from furniture for 40 hours and selling off some pre-primary portraits. i, of course am not so lucky, and spent the evening wondering how the heck i was ever going to sleep again with images of Ragu's big brown indian eyes flashing through my head which rested snugly on my new eqyptian cotton pillow case while he was digging up coal with his skinny bear fingers.
i turned to my new book that mum got me from the library, 'Fighting the Banana Wars and other Fairtrade Battles'. found this quote by indian activist, Arundhati Roy.
"Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day i can hear her breathing."
made me feel better.