Let the Children Play: A Story in Pictures
United Nations figure shows that Nepal under-performs in education and children rights among many others development indicators. Nepal may have signed many protocols regarding children’s rights, but child abuse is just as prevalent. It is not uncommon in Nepal to spot a child as young as six years working in hazardous conditions such as public vehicle, restaurants, brick factory, carpet factory etc. Though Nepal Government terms illegal to employ children under the age of 16, we can see children washing dishes and waiting at the tables in the canteen of Ministry of Women and Children. (Unfortunately I could not photograph this 10-years-old boy).
In the past, it was said that People's Liberation Army (The militant outfit of Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist) would consist of 30 per cent children. Thanks to the voices raised against the recruitment of child soldiers, people under the age of 18 years were not registered as the militia by United Mission in Nepal.
Though child laborer are seen everywhere in Nepal, child laborers are just rampant in the rural areas where they work in the farm dawn to dusk. Young boys and girls are seen plowing terrace, doing with dishes and carrying heavy loads. It is because of poverty that these kids have to work.
Since many years, Nepal government, in tandem with Save the Children, has been working to alleviate wretched conditions of children.
Child LaborersClick thumbnail to view full-size
Little GirlClick thumbnail to view full-size
The Little Girl
In the farm yard husband and wife were threshing rice. It was a season of rice harvest and farmers were on the trot. For a while I watched their hard toil then suddenly saw their daughter standing. She was nagging. “What is she saying,” I asked the mother.
“She is hungry,” the mother answered.
Though I had nothing to offer to the little girl I decided to make her smile. “I will take your pictures,” I said. She did not answer. When I was setting my camera the girl hid her face. “Show your face and make yourself beautiful,” the father said.
The children were scared of me because I was never friendly with them. In fact, I made faces to scare kids. I enjoyed when mother spelled my name to make their children eat. But when my sister had a baby, I changed for better reasons. Every day the baby grew older and he became very fond of me. I also started spending more time with the children in my locality. I began to observe the behavioral patterns of children in general and my nephew in particular. I was always interested in psychology but my interests became more specific and I began reading about child psychology and lots of books on raising kids.
I shot these pictures with my cell phone camera. After I was done with shooting, my one year old nephew wanted my cell phone. I had to relent when he began to cry. When I handed my Samsung, he threw on the floor and laughed. Now I use old Nokia that was lying discarded in my drawer. I’ll always cherish these pictures and the incident.