Last Sunday I saw in the paper a report about child labor and it got my attention, so I read it and have to confess that it moved my conscience till the point that this issue has been around my mind for some days.
In the report, the journalist talked about his visit to countries such as Indonesia, where multinationals hired ,in many cases, children from poor families. So he explained that when he asked these boys and girls what they wanted to be when they’re adult people, they answered, with all that misery around them, things like doctor, engineer, teacher, etc. although they don’t even attend to school. He told how young girls, almost children, forced into prostitution, dream about that one of their clients will be a prince charming who takes them out of that nightmare. The contrast between their terrible situation and that innocence in their sad eyes seemed to me the most cruel thing in the world. But one of the stories who moved me the most was about a boy who worked in a balloons factory. Balloons are for us something happy and funny, colorful, and if we ask any of our children if they want to go to a balloon factory they will answer yes. But for this boy, balloons and factories are not funny at all. Everyday he has to work hours and hours breathing all the chemicals needed to make the balloons, and has his skin whitish because of that. The balloons he’s almost dying to do will decorate the parties of children luckier than him, even they used to decorate my own birthday parties, but those balloons are made of the future, the health and the hopes of a child as innocence as any others.
And all this only brings one question: who is to blame? When I finished reading the report, I was feeling guilty. It’s not nice when someone comes to remind you that for keeping your life level, in the other side of the world millions of people are dying or living badly, it’s not nice when you remember that your hands are stained with blood. But we must accept that we’re in part responsible of this tragedy because, at the end, customers are the ones who choose, although the temptation of buying cheap is so big, isn’t it? And, after all, what can we do to change that? We don’t control multinationals. And moreover, if just one person deny to buy their products, will it make any difference?
This leads us to a new question: are all we to blame or are we just victims of this unfair system too? We’re constantly wanted to buy new products to keep or improve our social status, we’re constantly told that we need this or that to be complete human beings, although the truth is that it only makes us less human. If it wasn’t for some heroic and true journalists who show us the truth, nobody would tell us. These poor children spending their lifes in factories don’t appear in TV ads or on billboards. When you go to a shop and you buy something, no one warns you about that shirt has been made by children. Could be more sick a society that donates money to charities and at the same time is accomplice of a productive model which is going against the people charities help? But I guess we live happier closing our eyes to this. Because, after all, I can’t do anything about it by myself and you can’t do anything by yourself as well… or maybe is it a lie? Who knows?