1 July 2013

A STROLL WITH THE CNN FREEDOM PROJECT (For World Day Against Child Labour)

"Child labour and poverty are inevitably bound together and if you continue to use the labour of children as treatment for the social disease of poverty, you will have both poverty and child labour to the end of time" ~Grace Abbott

It’s funny where the stroll takes me to sometimes, this time it has taken me to the Royal Television Society News Channel of the Year! Cable News Network 

CNN has a freedom project that has been dedicated to fighting modern-day slavery since 2002, and considering the fact that child labour is one dominant form of slavery in this generation, I decided to have a stroll with Mr. Leif Coorlim (The Executive Editor of the CNN Freedom Project)

We talked about  poverty and the global fight against child labour; the contribution of the justice system in eradicating child labour; and lots more. It was really fun strolling with Mr. Leif, in fact it was a dream come true for me, and I really hope after reading this you’d get inspired to join this global ‘war’ against child labour. Well, here is what we discussed;

Ebenezar: Thank you so much for making out time to talk with me sir, despite your busy Schedule

Leif: You’re welcome Ebenezar.

EbenezarCNN is a global news brand that reaches millions of people around the world. What inspired the CNN to start the Freedom Project?

Leif: The CNN Freedom Project was started based on the premise that slavery still exists, which is a shame to us all. CNN wanted to bring its reach and resources into the fight so that the people working on the ground to save lives—the true heroes—would get the recognition and help they need and deserve.

Image Credit: CNN
Ebenezar: Okay, The ILO launched ‘World Day against Child Labour’ in 2002 and the CNN Freedom Project was launched in 2011. How far have we gone in eradicating child labour globally? And how much more do we still have to do?

Leif: The United Nations and International Labour Organization are working to address child labor around the globe. Obviously, it is an issue that resonates among millions of families, but it only touches human trafficking; however, child labour is also when a child is forced to work through coercion, violence or the threat of violence.

Ebenezar: The global meltdown, the Euro zone crisis, and increased unemployment have all added to the rise in poverty around the world. Don't you think poverty is one major contributor to child labour around the world? Because I've seen kids hawking on the highway who will tell you, they can't stop hawking, if not they'd have nothing to eat. What do you have to say about this?

Leif: Poverty is absolutely one of the major indicators that a person may become a victim of human trafficking. But it's not the only one. Not having a strong social support system or living in a country where there isn't an adequate rule of law are two other indicators. But with regards to poverty, obviously when people are desperate for work or food and are trying just to survive, they may agree to take risks that might make them vulnerable to being exploited. That doesn't excuse the people who are exploiting and abusing these people. From the laws against slavery that are currently on the books in every nation, It is up to governments to enforce their own laws and it is up to people all over the world to raise their voices to make sure their governments know that indifference to human trafficking won't be tolerated.

Ebenezar: Last month you were at the sentencing of a child pornographer who abused 8-year old girls; that story was really touching. Now, let's talk about the Justice system, do you think stronger penalties need to be given to these kind of people? Is the justice system doing enough to help the war against child labour?

Leif: I think you have to look at the sentencing of individuals convicted of trafficking on a case-by-case basis. Ultimately, it is up to a judge or jury to decide punishment according to the laws in their country. The penalty should fit the degree of the exploitation and the abuse. As Abraham Lincoln is quoted as saying, "Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves."

Image Credit: CNN

Ebenezar: Yeah, that’s very true. Also, Manny Pacquiao was part of your recent documentary ''The Fighters’’ and i'm just wondering, don't you think the fight against child labour/modern-day slavery will get a huge boost if many more celebrities and social figures pledge their support to this campaign?

Leif: Celebrities and social leaders have a platform and a huge following, and I know that if many more celebrities get involved in this fight against human trafficking, they will really bring awareness and pressure to those who would like to remain hidden in the shadows, while making money off the suffering of other people. So Yes, Social figures can help a great deal. Manny Pacquiao has been a tremendous fighter in the battle against human trafficking, especially with his work in the Philippines. I can't wait to see who will be the next big star to join the battle.

Ebenezar: I can’t wait too, thank you so much for your time Mr. Leif, You're doing a great job. Good luck on any future Projects the CNN Freedom Project will embark on.

Leif: Thanks for your interest Ebenezar!

For more about Mr. Leif (@leifcoorlim) and the CNN Freedom Project (@CNN Freedom), visit their website here.

Before we draw the curtains, I want you to understand that; Children are an inheritance from God, If you’re given 100 billion dollars as inheritance, would you throw it on the highway or drop it in the dustbin? Of course NO! You’d keep it, protect it, you’d keep watch over it and admire it.

We need to start taking kids serious in this world; these innocent infants are our future. They don’t need to be subjected to harsh conditions that leave a scar on their lives. So let’s all stand up and fight! Don’t turn a blind eye to any form of child labour happening around you.

I also want to speak to the world leaders and leaders of communities all around the world. I don’t think Mr. Barack Obama will be happy to see Malia and Sasha hawking on the street with big bowls on their heads, and it’s not just Mr. Obama, no world leader will be happy to see his/her own child hawking or working in a coal mine. I think that same love should drive every leader to make ‘eradicating child labour’ one of the top goals on their ‘political to-do list’

Child labour is barbaric, wicked, and evil. Say NO to child labour, Say NO to street children.

Till my next Stroll, Jesus Loves You

"Let the children come to me, and don't try to stop them! People who are like these children belong to God's kingdom." (Matthew 19v14, CEV)

By: Ebenezar Wikina (@EbenezarWikina)
JUNE 2013
All Rights Reserved

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  1. Wow, first of all, this is impressive...

    Personally, I have hated the very idea of slavery in whatever form it may appear. Its everywhere around us...even 'free' adults are slaved at work, by spouses.

    Its a battle we all must fight!

  2. Keep keeping on. Against every form of oppression, we must fight even though it has become a hydra-headed monster in today's world.

  3. Slavery huh? Can it ever be stopped? We should try to train our kids, no matter how poor you are.

  4. Barr. Val Cheta Ogbani (JP)13 August 2013 at 04:52

    Well thought out and well said. Thumbs up Ebenezar, good piece. However, i am concerned that our leaders/politicians, the so called Rights Organisations, etc are not doing enough to condemn the action. If it is to loot away our funds, you hear them shouting themselves hoarse.