Angel in Hell – Part I
“If my images bring to life the haunting realities that millions of children face each day then this is fulfillment of my work. And if mine is the hand that blocks the scorching sun from their eyes – bringing shade for just a single minute, then there’s value in the work I do. I am talking about 7.4 million children who are risking their life each second to rescue themselves from hunger and poverty, a tale of those for whom we rarely care about. I keep asking:
Who is there to bring them in the light from their working- living-hell? Who will save these innocent hearts which will decline with time! Is there any one? ”
– GMB Akash
I have traveled extensively in all developing countries including mine to document the use of child labor in factories. Years after years I have to wait to get entries to some of those hells which are only built to burn childhood in secret zone. I waited hours and hours beside the factory gates to get seldom permission to meet up those fateless kids. They never allow anyone to keep any documents or proof bearing things, but I did it by convincing factory owner. All time the heartless scenario, danger to get caught, inner emptiness frozen my finger to click. But when those children give a look with all the sorrow in expression God give me instant power to overcome anything of the world. & then my clicks never took a break.
The factories as too dangerous for children. They are “gloomy, unhygienic, smoky” and are fading away the children’s lives. I talk to the children in the factories and they tell me their stories, adventures and sacrifices. Their innocent smile can break your heart into enormous pieces if you stand in front of where they work/ live. My photos show the terrible environment they work in. Wherever I go I find great insecurity of lives. No protection, no appreciation, no opportunity. Their treatment varies child to child. There is no specific rule of behavior towards worker nether any of the factory maintain any core of conduct. Generally teenagers get bit generous treatment compare to children. But here experience never adds up any extra benefit for them. All are struggling in their own way.
* According to UNICEF, more than 7.4 million children are engaged in economic activity in Bangladesh. Many of them work in very poor conditions; some even risk their lives. Factory owners pay them about 400 to 700 taka (6 to 10 US dollars) a month, while an adult worker earns up to 5,000 taka per month.
My intention is not just to depict the children as victims of exploitation. I want to show the complexity of the situation: the parents who send their little boy to work in a factory because they are poor; the child who has to work to earn a living for the family; the boss of the factory who engage children also helping them otherwise, as if these children stay in the road they might take drugs or might become thief. I think it is impossible to abolish child labour completely in Bangladesh in the short term, but I do think it is possible to improve working conditions and to bring more children from factories into schools. I have been profoundly affected both emotionally and psychologically after seeing the repulsive evils of child labor. I feel guilty when I eat good food, and I feel haunted by the children in my photographs. I hope to achieve justice through documenting these conditions and making people aware of what is going on in these factories.
It’s positive when after seeing these photos people take a step, even realizing their situation can help. I believe many of us definitely indebted to them who are working for us in such condition. One day one by one we will all gather against such crime. Children will go to schools instead of factories. Yes, I am taking & I will until voices raise & hands come out.
“Can you exchange a day with your own child in the place of these children? Can you deposit your children’s labor in such a place for a day in return of $1. If you can’t, can you please do something for these children? “Wishing to help” is an excuse. Shame is a mild word to what we are overlooking. May our spirit wake up.”
- GMB Akash