Yet for the world's poorest — those living on $1 to $2 per day — extra resources simply don't exist. Before the current food crisis began, many families were already forced to spend 75 percent of their income on food. Now, they cannot buy as much, and hunger and malnutrition are becoming all too familiar.
The daily struggle for survival has a profound impact on children, who often help carry their family's financial burden by working. Instances of child labor, which occur in countries all over the world, are increasing along with food prices.
Some countries do not have laws preventing child labor, and in many, laws are not enforced. Often, children living in poverty begin working as soon as they are physically able, accepting whatever jobs they can — no matter how dangerous.
In India, well over 6,000 children work in the flourishing diamond industry, where they face eyestrain, shoulder pain, headaches, and life-threatening diseases and injuries.
Unnas is only 5 years old, but her aching fingers are covered with marks she received while working as a gem cutter to feed her family. "It's not supposed to be, but it is almost an acceptable thing for some families here," Unnas' caretaker told World Vision staff.
Children are not supposed to be exploited for cheap labor, and they are not supposed to miss critical years of schooling. Yet for hungry families, survival comes first. Education is the key to breaking the cycle of poverty, and World Vision is working to provide opportunities for children like Unnas and her family, so that she can attend school.
Just ask Sear, a 13-year-old who cares for her sister and ailing mother in Cambodia. Sear used to walk barefoot along the dangerous streets from 7 a.m. until 5 p.m., collecting recyclable scraps that could be sold to a junk dealer. "I have to support my family's living, or we won't have food to eat," she told World Vision staff. Sending Sear to work was the only way her mother knew to survive.
But now, with the help of World Vision, Sear attends non-formal education classes and takes time to play. Her family receives food and house wares, and her mother is learning to support her family from home.
Sear's story exemplifies the positive impact of addressing the underlying causes of child labor — poverty and hunger. As the global food crisis continues, the work to provide support to children and families in desperate need becomes even more critical.
>> Please pray for children around the world who, because of the deepening food crisis, are forced to work at very young ages for their own survival. Pray that through interventions from organizations like World Vision, these children will no longer face chronic hunger and malnutrition and will experience an opportunity to return to school.
>> Act now. Contact your members of Congress and urge them to support increased funding for food aid programs to help stop child hunger worldwide.
>> Sponsor a child today. World Vision sponsorship helps ensure that a child has access to nutritious food and an education, preventing hunger and malnutrition and eliminating the need to work dangerous jobs at a young age.
>> Donate now to provide food and care for hungry children and families around the world.
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