NEW: Cotton sustainability trip, fighting the root causes of child labour!

Now happening: the IWitness sustainability trip, visiting cotton community programmes from Save the Children in India. This time, the IWitness trip is not related to the Good Cause campaign but the IWitnesses will visit IKEA Foundation’s programmes with Save the Children India. These programmes are focused on fighting against the root causes of child labour in the cotton communities. But how? What does this mean? Fighting the root causes of child labour?

At the beginning of the supply chain, where cotton blossoms need to be plucked by the hand there are already challenges, but there are many more challenges related to the cotton sourcing communities that need to be addressed. Save the Children in India is doing the best they can to prevent and help fight against the root causes of child labour in some of the most challenging cotton communities in Haryana and Punjab.

These children should be at school, not in the cotton fields in Punjab - by Save the Children India
These children should be at school, not in the cotton fields in Punjab – by Save the Children India

Our colleagues Jatin Mondar and Nilesh Nikade, from Save the Children India helped me understand what the children are going through, let me try this on you: close your eyes and think back to your childhood, you are seven-years-old, running behind that ball trying to score, playing with your doll and tea-set, colouring that amazing picture. Sitting in your parent’s lap and drinking Chocolate milk and feeling intensely happy. Remember how your house, the playing field and everything around you looked so big?

Now imagine, no shoes, extreme heat, blinding sunshine, a field endless long, cotton plants higher and bigger than you are, and the sharp smell of pesticides crawling up your nose, burning the inside of your nostrils. Realizing it’s only 9am in the morning, you just started, nowhere to go, you just have to pick the cotton blossoms of the plants. Because there just is no other option…

But then one day, something happens… a man comes to the village and talked to the elderly of the village. He pisses them off, they are mad? And chase him away. Why?

But, he returns, tries to talk with them again. The elderly take their time, listen and are now calling for village meetings. What’s happening? Who is that man? What did he came to do in your village?

Follow Chantal, Jouel, Aurelie, Therese, Aimilia and Paul on this journey and they will show and tell you, what it means to fight against the root causes of child labour in the cotton communities.

IWitness team from Inter IKEA. From left to right: Chantal, Jouel, Aurelie, Therese, Aimilia and Paul.
IWitness team from Inter IKEA. From left to right: Chantal, Jouel, Aurelie, Therese, Aimilia and Paul.