Adrienne Henck

Adrienne Henck (Backward Society Education - BASE): Adrienne graduated from New York University with a Master’s degree in International Education. After her graduation, Adrienne worked at PCI-Media Impact, an NGO that uses creative media and story-telling to mobilize people and communities in sexual and reproductive health. Adrienne also taught English for three years with the J.E.T. Program. When she undertook her fellowship, Adrienne was preparing to pursue a Ph.D. at Penn State University. After her fellowship, she wrote: “I know that (this) experience is going to have a lasting impact on my academic and professional career. I loved Nepal and plan to return as soon as possible. I definitely have a newfound appreciation for how much we have in America."

A Ten-year-old Makes Your Frappuccino: Child Labor in an American Context

06 Jul

Child labor.  Over the past few weeks, this issue has been the focus of my work with BASE.  But what does child labor really mean?  Is this something that we, as residents of affluent America, can really comprehend?  Humor me for a moment and step outside your present reality…

Can you imagine a ten-year-old working at Starbucks, blending your Frappuccino? 

Or at McDonalds, flipping your quarter-pounder, wiping dirty tables, and carrying bags of trash bigger than she is to the dumpster out back.  It seems unreal and even bizarre.  But try hard and imagine.

Your car needs fixing and you take it to the mechanic.  Can you imagine that the oil-covered face underneath the hood of your Honda Accord belongs to an eight-year-old boy?  Seriously.

The high-rise going up down the street?  A troupe of 12- and 13-year-olds are the muscles behind that enterprise, mixing cement, welding beams and, from dawn to dusk every day, sending it higher and higher towards the sky.  Can you really imagine this?

That t-shirt you’re wearing looks good on you, even though it was made in a factory full of nine-year-olds, sweating to keep pace with the production line.

In your home, imagine you have a servant.  Sounds nice, doesn’t it?  Someone to cook breakfast, lunch and dinner for you, do all your dirty dishes, wash your laundry, and clean your house, including that  grime under the toilet seat that you’d rather not think about.   It’s a lot of work for a seven-year-old and often takes her no less than 18 hours a day.

These children, they’re probably not getting paid, and if they are, it’s not much.

They’re not going to school.  How could they find the time or energy with their workload?

And they’re certainly not laughing, playing and enjoying their childhood the way other children are.

Imagine that it’s not just one child, or even a couple.  This is 1 out of every 5 children in America.  That’s 13 million.  Wow.  Imagine that.

Good thing you only have to imagine, though, because if you lived in Nepal, this would be real.

Forgotten Childhood (source: Flickr)

Posted By Adrienne Henck

Posted Jul 6th, 2010


  • admin

    July 6, 2010



    Amazing post. Something for everyone to think about.

  • Karie Cross

    July 6, 2010


    That’s a powerful picture at the end, summing up a powerful post.
    Thanks for giving us all something to think about, and good luck in your work in Nepal!

  • Stephanie

    July 6, 2010


    There is a story about child labor in Haiti in today’s New York Times.

  • Bruno

    November 10, 2010


    I like this blog, advocacy is a blog with a nice content, unique articles and nice images / photos. Thanks

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