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Taking note of such stories, the Prime Minister's wife, Gursharan Kaur, on Saturday said policies and NGOs alone would not be able to weed out child labour and a change in social attitudes was needed.
"If everyone decides that they will not employ children, it will help a lot. It is the poor who send their children to work due to their low earnings. If their own families do not understand the child's rights, who will?" said Kaur. "It is not an easy job but we all have to work towards it."
Some Important Contact Points at Save the Children India
Thursday, 1 December 2011
No child should go hungry
Responding to the Russian Famine in the 1920s1921 summer the devastating famine in Russia became the overriding international emergency, and as a result the Save the Children's mission was changed to "an international effort to preserve child life wherever it is menaced by conditions of economic hardship and distress".
After seven years of revolution, international and civil war, with the loss of twenty-five-million lives and creation of thousands of refugees, Russia had been hit by harvest failure, greatly exacerbated if not directly caused by the new regime's domestic policy. Between fifteen and twenty-million people were facing starvation.
Save the Children first worked with several other organisations to feed and educate thousands of Russian refugee children in Turkey and elsewhere. This was fairly uncontroversial and unproblematic work that the Fund was well placed to undertake, earning them the praise of the League of Nations. At the end of August however the International Union agreed to act as agent for the transport and distribution of relief supplies provided by nineteen co-operating nations to one of the worst hit provinces inside Russia; Saratov on the River Volga. Adding a new complication to the work, Russia now had no domestic infrastructure for the provision of relief and was virtually a closed country offering no access for independent aid agencies. Previously exclusively a grant-making organisation, Save the Children was now forced to become fully operational, to persuade the Soviet authorities to let them set up their own relief programmes inside the country. This was a significant departure for the Fund, for the first time giving them a presence on the ground.
Meanwhile the slowing British economy prompted the press to question donating funds for Russian children at all when there was growing need at home. It was clear that for a Russian appeal to be successful in Britain the public once again needed to be persuaded that there was a genuine and desperate case for aid. Some papers were sympathetic, but several criticised Save the Children and challenged the accuracy of famine reports.
"The magnitude of the famine has been greatly exaggerated"reported the Daily Express in November 1921, The dispute rumbled on with the paper questioning Save the Children's motives, finances and efficiency, while running headlines emphasising domestic need, such as
"Folly of Feeding Russia", "Huge Sums for a Dubious Famine: What of England?" and "Moment Ill-Chosen to Appeal for Funds: Needs at Home".As tensions grew Save the Children flag-sellers were threatened with being thrown into the Thames, and groups of unemployed men demonstrated in the street outside the Fund's office.
Eglantyne's brilliant response was to send a well-known press photographer, George Mewes from the Daily Mirror, to film first the famine conditions, and later the Fund's feeding centres in operation. Mewes reported:
"Often I saw children who had gone far beyond the stage where English food and medicine would help, children in such a condition, that had they been animals, one would have destroyed them where they lay."
His films, shown privately as well as in cinemas up and down the country, were unlike anything seen before or much since, including heart-rending images of starving and dead children huddled together, and bodies being buried, as well as soup and milk kitchens in operation and children recovering their strength and health. It was the first time that film had been used in this way, and the shocked public responded generously; collections at film showings alone raising over six-thousand pounds. More importantly, the films provided evidence not just of desperate need, but of the real possibility of saving lives. In 1922 the Daily News reported:
After the First World War ended, the British government kept up a blockade that left children in cities like Berlin and Vienna starving. Tuberculosis and rickets were rife.
Picture: the Times
Picture: the Times
"A Starving Baby and Our Blockade has Caused This"That was the headline on a leaflet drawing attention to the plight of children on the losing side of the First World War. Save the Children's founder, Eglantyne Jebb, was arrested and fined for distributing it in Trafalgar Square, London.
"The children's bones were like rubber. Clothing was utterly lacking. In the hospitals there was nothing but paper bandages."