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In Memory Of Slain 12-Year-Old Activist

Broad Meadows Students Take Child Labor Fight To Washington, Geneva


Broad Meadows Middle School students are taking their nationally recognized and continuing campaign against child labor to officials in Washington, D.C. and world leaders in Geneva, Switzerland.

Eighth grades Grecia Amarra, 13, Meagan Donoghue, 14, and Stacey Smith, 13, representing the school, flew to Washington Tuesday with Principal Anne Marie Zukauskas and faculty project adviser Ron Adams.

(Presidential Camera Photo)

BROAD MEADOWS SEVENTH graders collected e-mail messages and petition signatures Saturday in their continuing compaign child labor. The students, shown here ar laptop computer with faculty advisor Ron Adams are, seated, Julie Vallatini and Christina Diep. Standing, Alycia Weiner, Kate Sault, Alicia Cappallano and Alana Conso. The students plugged their computers into outlets at Abigail's Crossing. They collected 712 e-mail messages and signatures.

And from there it will be to Geneva to attend the June 1 International Labor Organization Conference, a worldwide connection where delegates from around the world meet to write new global child labor laws.

The students will deliver in Geneva 3,000--or close to it--messages and names they have collected on their web site and in person opposing child labor and urging new laws to protect children form it.

The messages were collected as part of the Global March Against Child Labor, a worldwide movement and, at Broad Meadows, in memory of Iqbal Masih, the 12-year-old human rights activist who was murdered in his homeland.

The youngster visited Broad Meadows School in 1994 while in this country to receive a Reebok Human Rights Award for speaking out against child labor.

Masih told how he had been sold into child labor at the age of four by his mother who was poor and desperately need the slave wages he earned.

Masih was murdered for following year in Pakistan. He was silenced, may believe, for openly speaking out against child labor.

Broad Meadows students launched a campaign to raise funds to build a school in Pakistan in his memory. They realized $100,000 to build the school which was opened in 1996.

(Ron Adams Photo)

PASSERBY SIGNS Broad Meadows School petition against child labor in Quincy Square Saturday. Seventh grade students from left are Junlie Vallatini, Alycia Weiner, Katie Sault and Christina Diep.

Adams said the three eighth grades while in Washington tree days this week were scheduled to meet with Labor Secretary Alexis Herman, White House Advisor on Human Rights Eric Schwartz and Leon Fuerth, National Secretary Advisor to Vice President Al Gore.

After the ILO Conference in Geneva, the Broad Meadows delegation will return to Quincy June 4.

But there is more to come.

Adams said that Grecia, Meagan and Stacey will return to Washington June 10 to testify before a Congressional sub-committee on Human Rights. And, hopefully, three other students will join them on that trip.

Adams said the trips to Washington and Geneva are being sponsored and virtually 100 percent financed by the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Center for Human Rights.

"It is not costing the kids anything," he said, "The students raised about $500 towards the trip through things like raffles and bake sales."

In a display of support, eight seventh graders spent Saturday in Quincy Square gathering signatures in front of City Hall and BankBoston.

The seventh graders were:" Katie Sault, Alana Conso, Christine Diep, Alycia Weiner, Alicia Cappallano, James Munchbach, Michael Quigley and Julie Vallatini.

Their feelings about child labor:

"It's horrible!"
"Kids should be allowed to be kids!"
"They shouldn't have to work like slaves."
They should have the right to get an education."

They collected 712 e-mail messages and signatures, bringing the total number gathered since last November to over 2,900.

(Sun photo/Robert Noble)

BROAD MEADOWS MIDDLE SCHOOL students recently received the 1998 Administration Domestic Partnership Award from Brian Atwood, administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, for their work in gettign a school built in Pakistan in memory of slain human rights activist Iqbal Masih and other projects. Students form left are Chris Foye, Sabrina Squatrito, Evion Harden, Alaina Conso, Alycia Weiner and Christina Diep.

Each message represents a mile. It is hoped the number will reach 3,000 before the trip to Geneva. The three eighth graders will have a lap-top computer with them in Washington to receive additional messages.

The 3,000 messages will symbolically represent a 3,000-mile march across the U.S. against child labor.

Two of the messages received Saturday were:

"I, Lucrena D. Rhodes, would like to see an end to abuse of children through child labor, especially for the 'sweat crops' of the South and West in this country."

"I, Laure Chaskes, say that children are not mere pawns for resources for use by capitalizing adults. Children should be able to spend their childhoods learning and should be given a chance to grown into healthy productive adults."

Prior e-mails received included those from:

George Kent, professor and chair, Department of Political Science, University of Hawaii, Honolulu: "The cycle of poverty which creates and sustains child labor must be broken."

Kamaran Iftikhar, Program Officer, Sudhaar, Pakistan: "Child labor is lifelong suffering. There can be no justification in depriving children form enjoying their childhood and subjecting them to harsh physical and emotional environments. We are wholeheartedly with you in your protest against this exploitive practice."

And, from Jill Leth, 12, of Quincy: "Way to go Meadows! Keep up the good work!"

Ron Adams praised his Broad Meadows students: "These kids have worked so hard, They are the best. They have big hearts. They are kids who can be a little silly one moment and serious human rights activists the next.

"They want to be involved and they have a lot to say.

"We need to give kids more opportunities to be involved in the community--local and national."

If you would like your message against child labor to be carried to Geneva you still have a little time.

You can send it today to the Broad Meadows web site: http://www.globalmarch.us.org.

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