In It To Win It: Racing Against the Clock to condemn Child Labour
July 27, 2015 By vgen
All across the country, VGenners were dusting off their favourite pair of running shoes, trustiest magnifying glasses, and meanest competition faces as they readied themselves for The Amazing Race to #EndChildLabour!
However, what began as a fierce competition between rivals (with some dressed perfectly for the Olympics; an excellent scare tactic), soon turned into an eye-opening learning experience for like-minded, passionate and young volunteers.
WA university student Elise Ecker was one of these volunteers, who recognised that the VGen national event was about far more than simply winning a race.
“The Amazing Race opened my eyes to the reality of child labour, and how by supporting Fairtrade we can try and give as many people as we can the option to a safer and better life.”
The race began with participants discovering places that locally stocked Fairtrade products as an option, giving them the chance to engage in conversations about ethical trade, and the need to advocate for change. Soon after, participants were sprinting around the city from store to store, aiming to see how ethical the practices of major retailers really were.
For VGen WA State Director Georgia Kalyniuk, seeing the participants with such energy was the highlight of the whole event;
“The best part was seeing all of these passionate youth come together to engage with the wider community about issues of ethical purchasing and child labour.”
The most eye-opening experience for the participants seemed to come from one of their final challenges; to interview everyday people on the street about the issue of child labour. For Elise, this was the moment that made her realize it wasn’t the competition of the race that was important.
“I thought it was a race, but when I actually saw the statistics for the number of child labourers in the world and asked people on the streets if they knew how many suffer from it, I realized that I didn’t even know myself. I was just as shocked as the people that we interviewed.”
The one question that surprised most people was a seemingly simple one; ‘what percentage of children in the world do you think are currently involved in forced labour?’ The majority of guesses ranged from four to six percent. Although, they were good guesses, but reality was far greater with ten percent of children are currently forced into harsh working conditions – a total of 168 million children.
It seemed that the massive amount of energy from the beginning of the race sparked through the end of the race, yet now it wasn’t geared at competition, it was directed at providing 168 million children with a new voice.
Youth Ambassadors from every state closed the event with inspiring speeches. For Elise, the closing speech of World Vision Youth Ambassador Abbey Mardon was another highlight.
“Abbey drove the message of the day home. She reminded us that the question ‘what do you want to be when you grow up?’ is one that so many children trapped in forced labour could never answer. That really struck a chord with me”.
It was inspiring to see that just like many of the other participants, Elise’s favourite parts of the event were when she was able to engage in conversation and raise awareness about the imperative to #EndChildLabour.
It speaks volumes that when recounting her highlights from the day, Elise didn’t even need to mention the fact that she won the race.