Malleshwari – 29 years, is a senior cameraperson with TV9 – a leading television news channel network based in Hyderabad, India.
Her journey from a cattle herd in a remote village at Chinna Thellada in Medak district to a much decorated camera person is inspiring.
She was the third of 6 children – 5 girls and a boy. Her parents were poor; her father was an alcoholic and got violent with children and her mother. Her mother, worked as a daily wage farm labourer and was the sole bread winner for the family. By the time Malleshwari was 5 year old she started to graze the family goats accompanying them on pasture lands through rubble and shrubs. When she was 9 years old her mother passed away and she was under the care of her grandmother. Even there she continued to take the cattle out for grazing. She very much wished that she went to school when she saw children of her age going to school.
During the campaign against child labour MVF volunteers contacted her uncle and grandmother several times and could persuade them to at least send her to a motivation camp. This was a small but a great step, that gave confidence to her grandmother as well as Malleshwari who was withdrawn as a cattle herd and enrolled in the Residential Bridge Course Camp (RBC) in Alur during 1999.
Malleshwari blossomed in the camp, showed her talent as a singer, actor and a determined student. Her path to complete secondary school education and graduate in college was not easy, but she persevered. She led the group ‘Vimukti’ (Liberation) with 10 alumni of the RBC – a forum of ex-child labourers who went on weekends around the slums of Hyderabad to identify child labourers and motivate them through street theatre and campaign songs and to reach out to these children and their parents.
Malleshwari had developed a passion for photography very early on. The RBC had numerous visitors and every one of them would click dozens of pictures. She would long for the day when she could handle a camera on her own. She realised this dream in 2009, when she joined news television channel HMTV as trainee cameraperson.
During the course of her 5-year stint with the channel, she covered a number of children’s issues. She used the camera to free child labour, telecasting pictures of them in hotels, brick kilns on the TV and pressing the labour department to take action. Thus nearly 70 such children were liberated and repatriated. She also undertook the audio mixing of a documentary show on child marriage based on MV Foundation’s popular skit on child marriage.
Malleshwari tries to use every opportunity to highlight the issue of child labour and right to education and believes that media must be more serious about the issue of child labour and give visibility to it.
Hillary Yuba is the Child Labour National Coordinator as well as the Women Empowerment Officer for the Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe. Hillary Yuba is a trade unionist and teacher by profession. She worked as a child labour technocrat from 2009 to 2011 and is a national coordinator for child labour since 2012. She produced the Teachers’ guide for the incubation centre/bridge school. Currently she is working on the eradication of child labour in the tea estates.
Bram Callewier is general manager at Stoneasy.com, an online wholesaler for natural stone. He is a passionate entrepreneur with high respect for human integrity and has been active in the field of ethical trade for more than 10 years.
The extraction, production and transport of natural stone, for instance in India, faces several ethical and ecological challenges. Bram will discuss the efforts he has taken to fight child labour and how different issues in the supply chain can be addressed by business.
Mestika Negash Akalie
Mestika Negash Akalie, born in Ethiopia, Amhara National Regional state in South Gondar zone, joined school lately at the age of 14 after being out of school for some years due to lack of access to schools and low awareness of families on the value of education.
So far, he has participated on a multitude of national and international learning, advocacy & lobbying workshops focusing on education, child labour, fund raising, child protection, women empowerment, livelihood and other development issues that concerns vulnerable children, youth and women.
He is the founder of Wabe children’s Aid and Training (WCAT), an Ethiopian resident charity organization which was established in 1993. With his initiation, the collaboration of donors, local stakeholders and likeminded individuals, the organization has brought significant achievements in improving access to quality basic education for out of school children in the hard to reach areas by constructing schools. His work also brought improvements in the lives of vulnerable children, youth and women and contributed for the skilled human power development of the country in general beyond individual benefits of the target beneficiaries. In the areas of child labour, thousands of children have been liberated from child labour and accessed to school in South Gondar zone. He feels proud when he sees that the lives of children who were under child labour and under difficult circumstances improved. .
Varun Sharma is an accomplished development professional with academic background, an Agriculture Engineer with having Bachelor’s degree on Law both from Rajasthan University and Maters in Business Administration in Human Resource Development. Also, a certified PMD Pro level- I manager from UK. With over 20+ years of experience in designing, implementing and managing Country Programmes, Regional Campaigns and Strategic-Communication & Advocacy Interventions. It includes formulating Strategies, including Responsible Business Behaviour, prevention and striking strategic partnerships for address occupational health issues in unorganised sector, Outreach & Advocacy, including political advocacy at the highest levels for Development/Health interventions.
Moving on from his career in the Agricultural Engineering, he has worked with State and International agency such as Catholic Relief Services (USCCB), as a Sr. Programme Officer, including technical & management experience in designing and implementing different development interventions with multi-cultural teams and in the Emergency context, both in ‘Emergency Preparedness’ and “Emergency Response’. He has worked in all the countries in South Asia.
Currently Sharma is associated with ARAVALI (Association for Rural Advancement through Voluntary Action and Local Involvement), an autonomous institution formed by Government of Rajasthan in 1994 as Director Programmes.
In his tenure with ARAVALI helped coordinating civil society capacity building and put the agenda of the unorganised labour in front of state and national government in india. He was also founder of state’s first multi-stakeholder forum on Natural Stone, Know as Sustainability Forum on Natural Stone (SFNS) and managing Strategic Communication with business on development issues. He also has a wide experience in formulating and utilizing evidence-driven SBCC & advocacy strategies on occupational health and child-centred development issues at the community, national and regional levels.
As a mentor and trainer, Sharma has trained multiple teams in designing/planning and implementing field-based social mobilization interventions and dialogue with business in CLFZ in various States. He also has demonstrated experience in building multi-level strategic partnerships with political parties, corporate houses, civil society bodies, donors, NGOs & media in bringing strategic focus on the occupational health.
Sharma is also one of the founders of Alliance for Immunisation and health a dedicated alliance of 1400 CSO, work across the six states in India for increase immunisation coverage in india. He has also part of Stop Child Labour country core group for addressing child labour issues in different sectors. As part of Manjari Board member also associated with CLFZ Budhpura and work with Natural Stone worker community at grassroots level. Sharma has worked with diverse range of institutions like Government, Trade Union, CSOs, Comminute Based organisation, Business groups and International organisation’s on decent work and protecting human rights of disadvantage groups form last 10 years.
Venkat Reddy, National Convenor of MV Foundation has been working for abolishing child labour, protection of children’s right to education and campaign against child marriages for more than two decades now. Under his dynamic leadership, MVF has expanded its work from 3 villages of Telangana in 1991 to 10000 villages spread across Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Chattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal and many other states in the country. Through his innovative strategies and planning, MV Foundation was able to mainstream ten lakhs child labourers into full time formal schools in diverse terrains.
He trained and built capacities of thousands of youth, members of gram panchayats, and government officials at all levels on issues relating to child rights. He is involved in networking with government and non government organisations in Telangana and several other states in the country. He extensively travelled across African countries, Latin America, Europe and USA for sharing MVF experiences, orienting the partners and strengthening the alliances. He is instrumental in initiating the concept of the Area Based Approach for creation of Child Labour free Zones in the project area which was replicated by government agencies, national level NGOs and by the international “Stop Child Labour Campaign” partners in Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia, Ghana, Mali and Morocco.
He published several articles in the leading regional newspapers which is compiled into a book “Balala Paksham”. His persuasive nature and empathy for children fits well with his vision for deepening of democracy in India.
Andrews Addoquaye Tagoe
Andrews Addoquaye Tagoe (born in Ghana) is an Agricultural Engineer by training and a Trade Unionist by profession. Andy works as the Head of Education and Training for the General Agricultural Workers Union (GAWU) of the Ghana Trades Union Congress. He is a graduate of the University of Ghana, Berlin School of Economics, Institute of Social studies Den Haag. He has professional competences in Labour issues, decent work, child labour, workplace occupational safety and health, rural livelihoods and poverty reduction strategies for rural people. He is a union educator and an organiser. Andy has done extensive work on the cocoa value chain looking at labour conditions. He currently serves on the Board of the Global March Against Child labour, Chair to the Board of the Youth Employment Network – Ghana, and the immediate past secretary of the International Cocoa Verification Board (ICVB). Andy consults for the ILO Ghana, the Global March and other national and international organisations in the areas of rural livelihoods, workers health, safety and environment and child labour. He is a former international footballer and a coach.
No child should work. Every child has a right to education, to play and to enjoy his or her childhood. From this conviction, Sofie Ovaa works already for more than 15 years to improve the situation of vulnerable children world-wide.
Sofie: “A world without child labour is possible if everyone abides by these principles. By working together, seemingly insurmountable challenges such poverty and inadequate and inaccessible education can be overcome.”
Sofie studied cultural anthropology at the University of Utrecht and the Complutense University of Madrid. During her studies Sofie conducted research in Bolivia into migration flows from rural areas to the capital of La Paz and living conditions of children and their families in slum areas. She also lived three years in Guatemala where she did additional research into surival strategies of street children and worked for different organizations dedicated to the protection and rehabilitation of these children.
In 2003 she returned to the Netherlands to follow an Advanced Master in Development Studies at the Radboud University of Nijmegen. In the same year she joined Hivos. This was when Stop Child Labour came into existence. At the moment she is the international programme manager of Stop Child Labour.
Looking back at how far the coalition has come, Sofie says, “It has been very inspiring and rewarding to see how we grew from a European campaign with one partner organization in India into a worldwide program with partner organizations implementing Child Labour Free Zones in many different contexts. We’ve seen lots of positive changes, including in many areas of social-economic development. And in the last five to six years alone, we’ve managed to get 63,000 children out of work into school. This is very promising. Now new generations of children will be able to enjoy their childhood and follow the path of education laid out for them.”