Top Places to Reconnect in the World 2012
Missy Crutchfield and Melissa Turner
Be Magazine | www.bemagazine.org
An Untouchable Revolution
India has the largest number in the world of children not in school. Like the carpetbaggers of John Steinbeck’s classic novel “The Grapes of Wrath,” migrant laborers travel with their families across the Indian countryside in search of work. They set up tattered tents alongside highways or build small mud huts in the shadow of their boss’ spacious concrete homes. Although employing child laborers is illegal in India, it is still a very common practice there.
Anuradha Bhosale worked long hours as a child laborer until one day a man gave her a job for two hours a day and sent her to school for the remaining eight hours. He gave her an opportunity, Anuradha says. And that is exactly what she wants to give to the thousands of child laborers in the district of Kohlapur, India.
In 12 years of serving as a local social worker, Anuradha has rescued over 341 child laborers and provided education and healthcare assistance to more than 5,700 of the more than 35,000 child laborers in the district of Kohlapur.
Until Anuradha’s rescue efforts, migrant children were forced to carry 1,000 bricks per day on their head for $0.38.
Today Anuradha’s work with the local government has brought seven brickyard owners to arrest for exploiting child laborers. And three of those brickyard owners are now contributing funds to Anuradha’s latest project, AVANI school.
“There is a girl who attends the brickyard school here whose name literally means ‘Unwanted’,” shared Scott Kafora, project manager for AVANI school. With the work of Anuradha Bhosale and AVANI school—these unwanted, exploited children have a brighter future ahead of them.
Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson, Arun, has taken on AVANI school as a project, identifying funds to help make the AVANI school a reality. Located on five acres of farmland outside of Kohlapur, the new school is being designed with beauty and sustainability in mind—gardens, rain water harvesting, solar water heating, wind turbines, exercise bikes attached to a generator to produce electricity, will all add to the bigger picture for AVANI school.
A bright moment came on this year’s “Gandhi Legacy Tour” when Arun and Tushar Gandhi invited the group to join them in laying the first bricks for the AVANI school—a place that will change thousands of lives of brickyard children.
Visiting the brickyards AVANI school and feeling the continued plight of the “Untouchables” Gandhi worked for so tirelessly, Be Magazine Editor in Chief Missy Crutchfield turned to Arun Gandhi at the end of the visit and said, “This work is the beginning of an ‘Untouchable Revolution’!”
And, in his peaceful way, Arun Gandhi smiled and nodded in agreement.