India school frees slaves

WE ALL AGREE THAT EDCATION IS AN IMPORTANT RIGHT. BUT THIS ISN’T ALWAYS THE CASE IN OTHER PARTS OF THE WORLD.
IN INDIA, FOR INSTANCE, SOME KIDS ARE FORCED TO FORGO SCHOOL TO WORK GRUELING JOBS, OFTEN BECAUSE THEY ARE POOR, AND THEIR PARENT’S OWE A DEBT. THIS IS CONSIDERED MODERN-DAY SLAVERY.
BUT, UP NEXT, WE MEET TWO INDIAN CHILDREN WHO ARE FINDING A WAY OUT OF SLAVERY, THROUGH EDUCATION.
SITARA JUST LOVES TO DANCE. AT SCHOOLYARD GAMES, SHE MORE THAN HOLDS HER OWN. IN THE CLASSROOM, SHE'S A TOP STUDENT. SITARA IS HINDI FOR "STAR" IT'S FITTING. SHE'S A SHINING SUCCESS STORY OF A GROUP CALLED "SCHOOLS4FREEDOM." RAVI AGRAWAL, CNN NEW DELHI BUREAU CHIEF: "THIS IS A SCHOOL OF BOYS AND GIRLS WHO ARE SINGING, RECITING POETRY, ENJOYING THEMSELVES, AND YOU CAN JUST FEEL THAT THEY HAVE RICH FUTURES AHEAD OF THEM. BUT WHEN YOU SPEAK TO THEM, YOU LEARN THAT SOME OF THEM ARE HIDING DARK PASTS, THAT NO CHILD, AND NO FAMILY SHOULD EVER HAVE TO GO THROUGH. JUST ONE YEAR AGO, SITARA WAS WORKING AT A BRICK KILN LIKE THIS ONE. IT WAS DUSTY, UNFORGIVING WORK, SHE SAYS. IT WAS BONDED DEBT LABOR. BUT LET'S CALL IT WHAT IT REALLY IS: SLAVERY. AND IT'S PREVALENT ACROSS THESE PARTS OF UTTAR PRADESH, AN INDIAN STATE WITH 200 MILLION PEOPLE. SITARA'S PARENTS WERE ENSLAVED THERE TOO. THEY HAVEN'T FORGOTTEN THAT THEIR OWN DAUGHTER WAS SUCKED INTO BONDED LABOR … TO HELP PAY BACK THEIR DEBT.
A BIG PART OF THE SOLUTION IS AWARENESS … AND EDUCATION. AND THAT'S A BATTLE BEING LED BY PEOPLE LIKE PEGGY CALLAHAN. SHE'S THE CO-FOUNDER OF VOICES4FREEDOM, WHICH RUNS AND SPONSORS SCHOOLS4FREEDOM. RAVI AGRAWAL, CNN NEW DELHI BUREAU CHIEF: SO, HOW IMPORTANT ARE THESE
SCHOOLS FOR VILLAGES LIKE THIS? PEGGY CALLAHAN, CO-FOUNDER, SCHOOLS4FREEDOM: "THEY'RE ALL IMPORTANT. THEY'RE ALL IMPORTANT BECAUSE THE PARENTS WILL RISK EVERYTHING TO TRY TO GET THEIR KIDS EDUCATED. SO THEY WILL MOVE FORWARD EVEN WHEN THEY'RE AFRAID OF THE SLAVE HOLDER. EVEN WHEN THE SLAVEHOLDER IS THREATENING THEM, THEY HAVE THE COURAGE TO DO WHAT IT TAKES TO FREE THEMSELVES AND TO GET THEIR KIDS EDUCATED. BECAUSE THE BOTTOM LINE: EDUCATION IS THE GREATEST VACCINATION AGAINST SLAVERY, ALL OVER THE WORLD, AND IT IS WORKING MIRACLES HERE." THE MIRACLE ISN'T COMPLETE. AT THE VILLAGE WE VISITED, CALLAHAN SAYS 84 PEOPLE HAVE FOUND A WAY OUT OF BONDED LABOR. A FEW DOZEN WERE STILL TRAPPED. HOW DO THEY GET FREED? SOMETIMES THEY PAY OFF THEIR DEBTS … SOMETIMES CHARITIES INTERVENE … AND SOMETIMES IT CAN BE SIMPLER, LIKE UNDERSTANDING THEIR RIGHTS AND JUST SAYING NO. ONE OF THE PEOPLE STILL ENSLAVED IS PAPPU … HE'S JUST TWELVE … WE'RE NOT SHOWING HIS FACE - WE DON'T WANT HIM TO GET INTO TROUBLE FOR TALKING TO US. WHEN HE WALKS, HIS BARE FEET BETRAY THE SCARS OF HIS LIFE. BUT THEY HAVEN'T BROKEN HIS SPIRIT. PAPPU TELLS ME HE SNEAKS IN AN HOUR A DAY AT THE CLASSROOM. NATVO KIDS WASHING HANDS (NO PAPPU) SOMETIMES … WHEN THE OTHER KIDS LINE UP TO WASH THEIR HANDS, HE JOINS IN. … THE CHILDREN GET FREE, HOT LUNCHES AT THE SCHOOL. IT'S A MARVEL TO SEE THESE KIDS FIGHT THE ODDS AND STILL SMILE. AT NIGHT … PAPPU PRACTICES THE ALPHABET IN DIM LIGHT … HE DREAMS OF BEING A TEACHER SOME DAY. AND HERE'S SITARA AGAIN … COOKING FOR THE FAMILY … SHE KNOWS HER PARENTS NEED TO WORK LATE. EVERY DAY IS HARD IN THIS VILLAGE. EVEN WHEN THEY'RE FREE, THERE ARE A MILLION REASONS FOR THESE CHILDREN TO JUST GIVE UP. TO DESPAIR. AND YET … THE SCHOOL IS AN EXAMPLE FOR SITARA. THE SITARAS ARE AN EXAMPLE FOR THE PAPPUS. THIS IS WHAT FREEDOM LOOKS LIKE. THIS IS WHAT CAN BE.


Instructional Links

Free India School

Website: Voices4freedom, Schools4freedom

Website Article: Anti-slavery International, Child Slavery

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