12/03/2010, 00.00
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West Bengal, the Church fights child labor on tea plantations

by Santosh Digal
Children and parents work on the land for a few rupees a day, fearing hunger. Over 500 children helped by the Diocese of Jalpaiguri with educational programs and financial support.

Jalpaiguri (AsiaNews) - In the tea plantations of West Bengal over 2 thousand tribal and Dalit families work with their children for a few rupees a day. To combat the exploitation of child labor, the Diocese of Jalpaiguri in 2004 began a program of economic support and education for children.

Fr. Isudarshan Minj, director of social services of the diocese, said: "Parents do not want their children go to school, they do not understand the value of education and encourage them to work on the plantations." He stresses that most of the laborers, who come from the poorest areas of the state, are exploited and underpaid. What drives them to force even in children to work is fear of starvation.

With daily visits to the poor families’ huts, Fr. Minji and his group of volunteers, persuade families to send their children to school. "Children can not remain without an education - says the priest - the risk is that they will relive the lives of parents. So we teach them to read and write and also create a greater awareness in families, which often suffer human rights violations. "

To date, the diocese organizes courses and finances the education of over 500 children.

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