Near the Taj Mahal in India, tourists browse the shoes on sale at the market stalls.
They don’t question where the shoes came from.
But down in the dark in a residential home, 13-year-old Jatin is cutting leather pieces. His hands are lined and aged beyond his years, and he is surrounded by heavy machinery and sharp tools.
His handiwork – a meticulous line of leather shoes – look so perfect that it’s sobering to realise they’ve been made by a child.
Eventually, these shoes will be bought and sold at the Taj Mahal, with the rest sent to Delhi.
Jatin’s childhood wasn’t supposed to look like this. But when his father became very ill, Jatin gave up school to earn a living for his family. That was four years ago.
“I’m proud of my son for taking the responsibility to provide for the family when I was ill,” Jatin’s father says.
“But that is something he should never have had to do and I wish I could have provided him an education and the childhood he deserves.”
Jatin works 10-hour days, depending on how much work there is to do. There are days when he doesn’t want to go to work, but he knows that if he doesn’t, the family won’t have enough for food and rent.
His story is common for too many children living in poverty. The United Nations has estimated that as many as 168 million children around the world are involved in child labour.
Many of these children can never gain an education and can end up trapped in the poverty cycle for life.
Jatin misses his friends and learning at school.
But the sad truth is, he’s too busy trying to make ends meet that he can’t think about school too much.
“I know I can’t go back to school any more. Supporting my family is the most important thing now,” Jatin says.
Then he adds, “But I still dream of becoming a cricket superstar some day.”
This is your moment to make change for someone like Jatin. World Vision continues to defend the rights of the world’s most vulnerable people, including children caught in child labour. Sponsor a child today.