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It is really a good effort....

Hi Alex,
Volunteering as an intern with the International Labor Rights Forum (ILRF) is very commendable and it seems that the Mamidipudi Venkatarangaiya Foundation (MVF) bridge camps are an incredibly successful way of bridging the gap between the release of bonded child labourers and formal schooling.
Your statement “poverty does not cause child labor, rather, child labor causes poverty”, is an interesting one. It must be said that the relationship between poverty and child labour (especially bonded labour) is a cyclical relationship rather than a cause and effect. In many cases of child bondage labour, the parents themselves are steeped in poverty and they see the money forwarded from the ‘sale’ of the child’s labour as a way to survive or in some cases to pay for material goods. It would be unusual for parents to sell their children if they were not suffering from poverty.
Addressing the lack of motivation to solve the problem of child labour is an incredibly effective tactic. However, it will require social and political change which will not come easily even when all the necessary outer structures are in place. To give you an example from a Human Rights Watch document: any ‘unused’ money set aside for the rehabilitation of bonded labourers are re-absorbed by the Central government and allocated to a different project. In India the Central and State government work together to combat child bonded labour. In 1989-90 the Indian government used 76.16% of the budget allocated for rehabilitation of bonded labourers for that purpose. In 1991-2 the percentage dropped to 47.83%. The excuse given as to why the allocated funds were not used optimally was that the State government failed to submit receipts of expenditure. In other words, bureaucracy and lack of motivation to improve the human rights afforded to these children prevented effective change. So implementing change by addressing the lack of motivation would yield significant results. Whether awareness-raising campaigns alone are enough to target the problem is dubious. Rather, a good suggestion would be to combine the awareness-raising with poverty reduction tactics as well as legal enforcement of the consequences. We must remember that India has ratified numerous ILO conventions as well as the CRC and other legislation relating to child labour and child bonded labour.
By instituting these changes, we can support the work done by MVF (and other grassroots organisations) on the ground and create lasting change from both directions: from the top down and from the bottom up.

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