After reading Iqbal, a book about child labor activist Iqbal Masih, WMSG 8th graders decided to learn more about the issue and take action. They researched child labor and human trafficking and read Sold by Patricia McCormick, a book about a girl who gets sold into prostitution. Their research inspired them to decide to raise money for young women who have been sold into and then rescued from brothels in Nepal, India and Pakistan. In the coming weeks, students are planning activities to raise money and awareness among their peers.
Sister Mariam Norick, RJM visited their class on April 18 to talk about her 42 years living in Pakistan and educating children, especially girls. She shared her experiences as an educator, both in rural areas dominated by the Taliban and the capital city of Islamabad. She talked about the tensions between Christian and Islamic communities in Pakistan, and explained some of the differences between life for women and girls in Pakistan compared to the United States.
Sister Mariam recently completed an internship at the United Nations Headquarters with the NGO UNANIMA International, which advocates for women and children (particulary those living in poverty) to global policymakers through the United Nations. She answered the girls' questions specifically about child trafficking in the region, including examples of how some children come to be trafficked and the societal forces that have allowed the practice to flourish.
When asked why the students were interested in the issue of child labor and child trafficking, one 8th grade student responded, "Because we are so privileged, we want to do what we can to help other kids." The girls researched organizations that provide services to girls and women who have been rescued from brothels. They selected Maiti Nepal, whose Executive Director Anuradha Koirala was honored as the CNN Hero of the Year in 2010 for her work helping women and girls who have experienced such suffering.