From working in a mica mine in Jharkhand's Giridih district as a child labour to representing India in a global event by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) at Durban - the journey has been long for Badku Marandi.
Badku, 21, is among four people to represent India in the 5th Global Conference on the Elimination of Child Labour, organised by the ILO and the government of South Africa from May 15 to 20.
"After being rescued by Nobel Peace Prize winner Kailash Satyarthi Foundation, the mission of my life is to rescue other children and encourage them to begin a new life," Badku, who is now studying in class 11, told PTI from Durban over the phone.
He said he is a resident of Kanichihar village in the Tisri block of Giridih district and is now engaged in creating awareness about child labour among children of the area and extending support to them through the foundation.
"My father passed away when I was five. My mother Rajina Kisku and I then started working in the mica mine to eke out a living. In 2012, the mine collapsed during heavy rains, and I was rescued from debris," Badku said, narrating his story.
He said two persons, including his fast friend, died in the accident while he somehow survived but lost vision in one eye.
"Though I survived the accident I was shattered by the death of my friend. In 2013, Kailash Satyarthi Children's Foundation selected Kanichihar village as Bal Mitra Gram (BMG) or a child-friendly village. I was enrolled in a school the same year and became the first individual in my village to pass the matriculation exam," he said.
He said he was also elected the head of the 'bal panchayat' (Children's Panchayat) and now works as an active member of the BMG.
The other participants in the conference include Tara Banjara, Amar Lal and Rajesh Jatav from Rajasthan. More than 4,000 delegates are participating in the event.
The 5th Global Conference on the Elimination of Child Labour opened with a strong call for urgent action to combat the rising numbers of children in child labour.
The latest figures show that 160 million children, almost one in ten of all children worldwide, are still in child labour. The numbers are rising, and the pandemic threatens to reverse years of progress. Child labour has grown, particularly in the 5 to 11-year-old age group, the ILO has said.
It is the first time the Global Conference on the Elimination of Child Labour is being held in Africa, a region where the number child labours is the highest.
The conference will build on four previous Global Conferences, held in Buenos Aires (2017), Brasilia (2013), The Hague (2010), and Oslo (1997), which raised awareness of the issue, assessed progress, mobilised resources, and established a strategic direction for the global movement against child labour.
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