The rights of child slaves
Arranged for 500 children to receive a birth certificate
Om Prakash grew up in a small, rural village in India. When he was only 5 years old he was forced to work on a farm. Om Prakash his father was indebted to his landlord, that is why Om Prakash and his whole family were forced to work on his land. Om Prakash received only two meals a day and got beaten on a regular basis – even for little mistakes. Because Om Prakash was forced to work, he couldn’t further his education.
When Om Prakash was 8 years old, he was saved by the organization of Kailash Satyarthi, winner of the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize. This organization, Bachpan Bachao Andolan, also started to teach Om Prakash about children’s rights. Om Prakash got to go back to school and he learned to play and to celebrate his birthday for the first time in his life.
Om Prakash wanted to continue to learn and went to a public school. Here he advocated for the rights of other children. He created new activities to create awareness for children’s rights and educated parents on the importance of education for children. He convinced parents that children shouldn’t work and that they should go to school.
At 12 years old, Om Prakash was elected chair of the Child Parliament of his school. He took action when his school sought fees from the parents of the students. He assured that the public schools of India would stay free. Om Prakash went to court and they ruled in his favor. The school had to pay back all the fees that had been paid.
“Children are pure. The problems are caused by adults. I want to help the little people.’’
In addition to the right to education, Om Prakash advocates for the right to an identity. He started a campaign to get children registered and give them a birth certificate. Without a birth certificate, they cannot advocate for their rights and are not protected when these rights are not adhered.
Supported by the KidsRights Care and Study fund, Om Prakash was able to get his Bachelor of Computer Application at the Poornima University of Jaipur, where he also lived on campus. In 2017, he started his MBA, Masters of Business Administration.
KidsRights empowers Om Prakash to be a strong changemaker for the education of children and the rights of child laborers. Om Prakash is continuously very active for the children in his surroundings. In 2013 Om Prakash noticed that many girls and boys who live in the neighborhood around the university received poor quality education. That is why he started his own organization together with two friends, Paatshala. He inspired other students from his university to join and give classes in the evening to strengthen the skills, like reading, writing and mathematics, of these children. They also support the children beyond the formal curriculum through for example arts and theatre.
When Om Prakash was 8 years old, he was saved from the farm he was working on by an organization called Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA). BBA, founded by Nobel Peace Prize winner 2014, Kailash Satyarthi, has been fighting against serious forms of child labor in India for over 30 years. KidsRights supports BBA in their work to free more children and give them the help they need. Not only does BBA work on the ground, they also advocate for policy changes. Right from the start, BBA has organised protests and demonstrations to demand legislation on child labour.
“We are changemakers because we change ourselves first”
Om Prakash is a founding member of The KidsRights Youngsters; a unique youth-led advocacy and awareness raising platform of the International Children’s Peace Prize winners, that aims to realize children’s rights, as outlined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child. As leading young changemakers, they act locally, speak out to world leaders, influence policy, and engage children and youth worldwide.
In December 2016, KidsRights, Nobel Peace Laureates, leaders, children, and youth from all around the world, convened to call for the urgent need to act for children's rights. The Laureates and Leaders for Children Summitconvened to call for action for children’s rights. BBA and KidsRights joined forces at the Summit to empower children and youth to contribute their views to the discussions
Om Prakash attended the summit together with co- KidsRights Youngster Kesz adn their peers form India and the Philippines.