By Odisha Story Bureau, Bhubaneswar:
A photo exhibition to sensitize people on the issue of child labour and steps to tackle it started today at the Regional Lalit Kala Kendra, Bhubaneswar. This was organized by Bakul Foundation, Mushroom: The Photographer’s Circle and the Department of Labour, Govt of Odisha with the support of UNICEF.
The photo exhibition from 15th November to 19th November is being held to mark the Children’s Day celebrated in India on 14 November and Universal Children’s Day celebrated across the world on 20 November. The aim of the exhibition is to open the eyes of the public to the varied and yet common and complex instances of child labour and to make them aware how they might be complicit in the prevalence of child labour. The attempt is also to make the public aware of what mechanisms are available on behalf of the Government to address this issue and how they can help.
This photography exhibition emerged out of the Mu Volunteer initiative of Bakul Foundation and UNICEF. The Mu Volunteer initiative is an attempt to promote and strengthen young changemakers and thereby create a community of changemakers. Since images speak more than a thousand words and people feel and recognize every disaster and issue through certain poignant images, photographers were roped in to use photos to create awareness on the issues of child labour.
Hence, the exhibition with 60 photos spread over 3 sections. The first 30 photos set the Context of Child Labour and showing the diversity of professions in which children are employed from the roadside dhaba and domestic work to brick kilns.
The next set of photos focus on situations that ensure Prevention of Child Labour. This section has photos on what childhood should be like and has captures of children, who were potentially at risk as they seem to come from financially weak families, but they are engaged in a happy childhood with fun and education, with play and study, with reading and drawing.
The third set of photos focus on the Response of the Labour Department to cases of child labour with images of children being rescued from worksites, children studying in the NCLP (National Child Labour Project) schools and children studying and residing in Seasonal Hostels set up to ensure children do not have to accompany their parents, who are seasonal migrant labourers to other states.
The photo exhibition was inaugurated by Ms Anu Garg, Principal Secretary, Dept of Labour, Govt of Odisha in the presence of the Labour Commissioner, Mr Sachin Jadhav, members of Bakul Foundation and Mushroom photography circle, L N Nanda of UNICEF, District Labour Officers from across the stateand students of BMPS Takshila School. Ayesha Das of Class 7 of BMPS School said a powerful thing that children were God’s gift to stop child labour.
Ms Gupta inaugurated the exhibition in the typical Bakul way – by watering a plant. She said, “it was a wonderful photo exhibition and asked the children to think about other children, who were not as privileged as they to be in school, and thereby to be more sensitive to the issue. Ms Garg particularly loved listening to the real life stories of 2 young girls, Manorama and Subhashree, who had begun as child labourers, but who went to an NCLP school and now were continuing education in college.
She said the Government was committed to ending child labour and wanted everyone to join hands to mitigate this problem.
Sanjeet Patnaik of Mushroom said, “It was a challenge to capture instances of child labour as there was resistance from parents and employers. But we are happy to get this opportunity to use our photography skills for an important social cause like child labour”
Deepsha Dhal of Bakul said, “Children were very keen to know how they can help other less fortunate children, and what the Government is doing to tackle this problem.” Since, children are very sensitive, Bakul is particularly reaching out to schools and colleges to get the students to come to the exhibition and engage with the issue of child labour.”