Kolkata, 10th June: In the run-up to celebrate the World Day against Child Labour on 12th June, CRY – Child Rights and You collaborated with the Indian Museum to organise the fourth edition of Aashayein this Sunday. More than 120 children from several urban slums of the city took part in the day-long bonanza. SVF, Kolkata’s leading film production house stood in solidarity with the cause as the eminent cast and crew of their latest offering Uma graced the event to motivate and interact with the children.
The event also marked the launch of an awareness drive by CRY to drive home the message that One More Child in School is One Less Child Labourer – to highlight how education can play a game-changer in addressing the issue.
The central lawn of The Indian Museum was abuzz with mirth and merriment for children from the slums of Rajabazar, Dhapa, Kalighat, Topsia, Dhakuria and Howrah. CRY volunteers had organised workshops on art and drama for them, while children exhibited models of their science experiments made all by themselves.
The event was inaugurated by Atindra Nath Das, the Regional Director of CRY (East) and the acclaimed actress Debolina Dutta.
“Look, what they are capable of creating if given a chance to express and grow to their full potential. It’s time we acknowledge that child labour is something that limits their horizons. Instead, every child should be in school, where they can get adequate opportunity to learn and grow,” said Atindra Nath Das.
Debolina Dutta said, “We tend to overlook the issue of child labour because it’s convenient. I strongly feel children should learn, not earn. If we all come together and at least be cognizant about the issue, I believe, half of the battle will be won.”
For the volunteers at the helm of the affairs, it was nostalgic. “Interacting with so many children from so many different backgrounds has been an experience of a lifetime for me. I feel fortunate that I am working towards providing them with a bright future, especially when many of them suffer from various vulnerabilities including child labour,” says Ayush, a CRY volunteer.
“My friend Guria and I look forward to this event every year. We all come together and have so much fun. We are regular in the sessions that bhaiyas and didis conduct, too. I love painting. When I grow up, I want to join art school,” chirps Khushi, a bright 12-year-old girl from Dhakuria.
Mr. Rajesh Purohit (Director, Indian Museum) said, “We aim to make it an inclusive museum, and we are very sensitive and supportive to human rights. We have partnered with different voluntary, non-profit organisations to express our solidarity with their causes, and CRY of course champions the cause of child rights, which is very close to our heart. So we eagerly look forward to continuing our partnership this year.”
Srijit Mukherji, Rudranil Ghosh, Anupam Roy, Anirban Bhattacharya and Sara Sengupta aka Uma added to the joyous atmosphere as they spoke up for the cause.
Sara aka ‘Uma’ was overjoyed, she interacted with the children and said, “I had no idea that I would make so many new friends here. They are all so talented and inspiring. I would love to grow together with my new friends and wish the city becomes a better place for us.”
Addressing the issue of child labour, Srijit Mukherji,Director of Uma and a National Award winner, said, “I do believe that when children drop out of schools and are sent to work they are denied of their rights to grow up as happy, healthy and creative children. If we would not like this to happen to our own children, should we allow this to happen to any child in our country?”
“My appeal to all is, let us be aware and take a pledge that we will not employ children at any point – be it as domestic help or as shop-hands. Let us join hands together and make it happen,” said Anupam Roy, the acclaimed singer who scored music for the film.
Uma is inspired by a true story. In 2015, Evan’s hometown of St. George staged a massive Christmas celebration in October as he was suffering from cancer and would not have lived to witness Christmas otherwise.
The Bengali version is the story of Uma, a young girl fighting a terminal disease, her father’s struggle to make his daughter’s dreams come true and a director whose past keeps haunting him. Released nationally on 1st June this year, the film has already won hearts everywhere.
Tega Industries Ltd., Khandani Rajdhani and Fever FM extended support to make the event successful.