Latest posts by Michelle Yost (see all)
- The Harvest - September 22, 2016
- A Story of Empowerment: Koushik Propelledthe Engine of Social Change in Bangladesh - September 15, 2016
- Child Labour or Slavery: Minhaz is the Hope for Change! - September 8, 2016
A seven-year- old child, Minhaz, is thrown on the streets by his parents. He, like other homeless and destitute children, land up working as child labour. The working conditions are terrible. Children are beaten up for no rhyme or reason. The brutality unleashed on them is savage. Kaushik saves Minhaz. But, there are many more Minhaz-like children on the streets on Bangladesh. Do they have any hope? Michelle seeks help from the trauma specialists, in her weekly column, exclusively in Different Truths.
Minhaz is seven years old. His parents threw him out onto the streets. So commonplace an event that it is almost normal to do so. Is it cultural? Do they not know about or use or believe in using birth control? Answers I cannot get, because I am not sure it is a subject I can bring up. What is a seven-year- old boy doing on the streets? Working.
Another thing I can’t change but am trying anyway. Minhaz was working at a restaurant as a helper. Child labour is the polite term for what is also common. I call it slavery. The term seems so strong, doesn’t it? But this world should try to open their eyes to the truth.
These children are provided shelter? Of what sort? How are the living conditions? Food? How good and how often? Minhaz was beaten daily. His infractions? He does not know. He knows he hated it there. He knows he had no future. That he would die young, like his fellow workers on the street. Koushik regards child labour in the worst way. He would step between a child and his or her boss to take the blow coming at them.
Child labour is something we are stepping into all the time. Minhaz is just one student to come from this kind of situation. Koushik would help them escape. We keep the farm safe but the reality is, these people will go find another child in five minutes. They are that abundant, the children. So are the, shall we call them employers, they are everywhere too.
The children are kept in one place during the day. The government social workers try to keep an eye on the population as best as they can. Gazipur is a tiny dot on no map practically. Lookup the region of Joydebpur and maybe you can find Koushik and the school. I am visiting soon. Little Ramo wants to be me and is now composing poetry! I know it will be hard on my heart. But Koushik must be free to pursue his dreams, his way, as I watch and pray he won’t fly too far away. Lapsing into poetry myself now.
Gazipur, my friends, I cannot thank you enough for the support you have given us during our start up time. I hope we have kept our promises to you as well. Without you, my respected friends, we would not exist as we now do. From our seed seller to our fishermen and our volunteer help, these children would not have known the unceasing love and care and safety that we all together have brought them.
I believe that this kind of project can work other places, in other ways. That is how it was designed, to be adapted to you, as individuals as well. Dreaming is not enough. Hard work and dedication is absolutely required. If you are allowed by your government to reach for more and you want it, go for it.
Whether you want to save children of the streets or become part of the system to make change, or be a poet or whatever your passion happens to be, without being illegal of course, please pursue it. Even if you think it is only a hobby, nothing of monetary value, it is a skill, no one can take a skill away from you. And unless you have really changed, you cannot predict the future, can you?
Koushik and I cannot support child labour. We started that way and that has not changed. Koushik has a mission in life. He really wants to save each and every one of these children from this horrible, traumatic and early death fate. We have had many talks about why we cannot do it. That saving the world was too big for two people to possibly accomplish. But what about Minhaz? There still are so many!
If only there were more of you. But there are many. I am reaching out now, before Koushik is on his own. We will need external ties to keep us apprised of new techniques, ways to organise, collaborative efforts and this sort of thing. Suggestions in the webzine, Different Truths, are very welcome. Trauma therapy is available online for children. Minhaz and his friends at the school show symptoms now, so our need for any experienced volunteer is urgent.
I am with Kaushik and will be there for him. I am not a trauma therapist, but I know the symptoms. So, we continue to focus our efforts on stability, while helping the community too. We are at capacity now but Koushik saves children from child labour, if he can.
Pix by author and Kaushik.