Six months ago I was walking along a dirt path in Uganda, a young girl dressed in smiles and sandals was skipping beside me. We were going on a hike.
As we walked, we passed a rock quarry. A family sat mining away at the rock. The heat was sweltering; the conditions unbearable.
When I got back to the area I was staying at, I talked with my hosts. Several of them had worked in rock quarries as children. The simple thought of this bewildered me. Young children mining in hellish conditions for hours on end… and for what?
I was horrified.
Their stories recounted endless instances of abuse and near-death experiences. I was angered; humbled.
But their testimonies are not unique. Child labor extends far beyond the borders of Uganda.
Thousands of children work day and night to provide our “essentials.”
Phones, Coffee, Clothes.
The things we seemingly “cannot live without” are bought at the cost of innocent children.
Just last year, UNICEF reported that over 100 million children were found working in child labor. That’s twice the amount of all American children currently enrolled in public school.
The US Department of Labor reports over 370 products made by child labor and over 75 countries in which such affairs occur.
The entirety of the issue is so overwhelming, that it’s easy to say it’s out of our control: To give up before ever starting.
That sick feeling I felt, looking down at my Old Navy gift card, just moments after realizing they source child labor. It’s one I won’t forget, one of conviction, realization, and shame.
My country is the richest, the loudest and the proudest. But what do we have to be proud of? That we are so strong, we cannot help the weak? So rich, we cannot feed the poor?
The truth is simple, child labor isn’t something far away.
Child labor is on your front porch. It’s in your backyard, sitting at your table and pumping through your veins. You wear child labor. You wear it like it’s something to be proud of, as if the brands you love so much, are as innocent and pure as the children who make their products.
Our society has become so selfish and bent, that in our longing to get more, we’ve just ended up with less. Lower satisfaction, lower moral standards, and lower levels of empathy for the world that’s around us.
We have to stop this economical epidemic. Our money is fueling an industry of evil.
Eyes spark at sales sign, oblivious to the faces behind the prices. It’s time to put an end to this all.
So come, take off your clothes of blind consumerism. The outfit of justice is waiting.
Look beyond labels and price tags. Research company’s sourcing, look at their ethical policies. Do not just assume you’re innocent because you retweeted something on Twitter. Take action. If you’re not helping, you’re hurting.
For more information and ideas on how to help, please read the sites below