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Students discover child labour doesn't work

20 February 2006

Wellington students discover child labour doesn't work

Children bonded to work, in chains. Twelve-hour workdays, instead of school. These are concepts New Zealanders are unfamiliar with. But with World Vision's 40 Hour Famine fast approaching, students nationwide are getting a vivid education about children suffering in exploitative labour situations around the world. They're also getting the chance to help.

Amalia Fawcett, national speaker for the 40 Hour Famine, is travelling throughout the country to talk to intermediate and secondary students as their schools gear up for the Famine (March 17-19). Ms Fawcett will be in Wellington this week, February 21-24.

"I want to engage New Zealand youth with the plight of children overseas. The reality is that many children don't even go to school because they're working, which severely affects their opportunities for the future," says Ms Fawcett.

"This can be attributed to crippling poverty that steals people's choices."

The theme of this year's 40 Hour Famine is "Spread the word – child labour doesn't work", emphasising the effect child and bonded labour has on children in developing countries.

Ms Fawcett specialises in children's rights and is World Vision New Zealand's advocacy and policy analyst. She has a Master's degree in refugee studies from Oxford University, and a Master's degree in African studies from Yale University. She also has experience working with children in Tanzania, researching in Rwanda and working for other international NGOs.

"Children in developing countries are not that different from children in New Zealand, yet the unjust conditions some of these children face would not be tolerated in our country. To bring this home to Kiwi kids, to inspire them to help, is realistic and achievable. So many students already embrace the 40 Hour Famine and appreciate what it is to be part of solving these problems," she says.

Ms Fawcett is a passionate communicator who is excited about promoting understanding and action among New Zealand youth in the lead-up to the 40 Hour Famine. Her message to students is clear: Child labour doesn't work – the weekend you give up, makes a lifetime of difference to the people you help.

"I did the Famine when I was at school – I think it's important to be involved in something bigger than yourself at that age; it puts things in perspective. The Famine is a unique opportunity for New Zealand kids to start to understand the lives of children elsewhere, to develop global awareness, and to have fun doing it," says Ms Fawcett.

World Vision hopes to raise $3 million from the 40 Hour Famine this year, money that will be used for projects that help children affected by child labour, as well as the HIV/AIDS pandemic and malnutrition in countries like Cambodia, Tanzania, Rwanda and Bangladesh among others.

Last year 130,000 New Zealanders took part in the Famine, raising a record $2.85 million.

The 40 Hour Famine begins at 8pm on Friday March 17 and finishes at 11am on Sunday March 19 (daylight saving).


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