While the heavy issue of child labor sat at the heart of my summer work, sometimes the most important issue of the moment was deciding with a young girl: “Should we use the light blue or the dark blue cloth to create the clouds in that picture?”. These lighthearted concerns were part of the several weeks I spent visiting Child Friendly Villages and working with over 200 Child Club members to produce two Children’s Love Blankets. The blankets are advocacy tools which represent a Child Friendly Village’s commitment to end child labor and promote children’s rights, including the right to education. Most importantly, though, the blankets provide a medium through which Child Friendly Villages can tell their side of the story.
The Concept: Protecting Nepal’s Children
A freed child laborer in the documentary, The Price of Childhood, produced by 2009 Peace Fellow, Kan Yan, commented, “The worst part about child labor is that we [child laborers] can’t get any love or affection from our families because we are away from them.” The Children’s Love Blanket represents a Child Friendly Village’s commitment to give that love and affection to their children. Blankets have a special meaning as a kind of security. We feel warm and comforted when we are surrounded by a blanket. In the same way, the village is saying to its children, “Through this blanket we made for you, we are vowing to protect you”.
The Process: The Making of the Children’s Love Blanket
Along with a BASE staff member, I visited nine Child Friendly Villages. After the children (and sometimes adult Child Friendly Village Committee members) gathered at the village community center, I explained the purpose of the blanket and asked if they were interested in participating. Of course, they always said “yes”! The children then worked in teams to each produce one square of the blanket.
Here’s what the blanket-making process looked like:
And here’s the finished Children’s Love Blankets!
The Continuing Story: The Blanket as an Advocacy Tool
Ultimately, two blankets were made: one will stay in Nepal to be used in BASE’s advocacy, and the other will go to America to be used for outreach. BASE plans to use the blanket to:
– generate awareness about child labor and children’s rights by carrying the blanket in marches, rallies, and protests;
– influence the decisions of parents by taking the blanket when trying to persuade parents of child laborers to bring their children back home; and
– impact national and international policy by bringing the blanket to policy meetings with government officials in Kathmandu, UN members, and other NGOS to help share the story of Child Friendly Villages.
In America, the blanket will travel throughout the country, spreading the story of the Child Friendly Villages. Events, in which The Price of Childhood will also be screened, are already planned at the Mercy Corps Action Center in New York City and at the University of Maryland.
I have been touched by my experiences with BASE’s Child Friendly Villages. Help me to tell their story.
If you are interested in attending or hosting a blanket/documentary event, please contact me.
Posted By Adrienne Henck
Posted Aug 26th, 2010