Children's Stories: Laughter and Forgetting: Binod
Watch Binod laughing and kicking a soccer ball around with his friends in the dusty yard at GoodWeave’s Hamro Ghar (a refuge for rescued child laborers) and Binod is just another kid. You won’t notice the depth of sadness in his eyes. He works hard to hide it. Binod has taught himself to NOT feel. It was a skill he almost perfected in the rug factory where he worked 15-hour days tying knots.
In a quiet moment of conversation when one might feel almost guilty taking him from his play and forgetfulness, he tells his story in short bursts. “I felt nothing inside. I was nothing,” he says looking down. Felt nothing but the pain is what he means. “Everything was full of pain.” That is until a GoodWeave inspector came… until he was rescued. “It was my good moment. I didn’t run. The boss said to run, but I stayed so they could save me and get me out.”
Before coming to Hamro Ghar the 13 year old had never been to school. His was a life of work and loss. His father died of tuberculosis. His mother ran off with a neighbor. The children struggled to manage on their own. “We never had enough food for everyone, or water to drink,” he says almost whispering as if he doesn’t want anyone to hear. Or, perhaps, doesn’t want to hear it himself. “Our house was a hut that had one room. We all lived in the room. When it rained outside, it rained inside too.” But at least they were together. However that wouldn’t last.
The children soon split up. A brother went to a factory. Binod was shuffled off to a cousin. Nothing worked out. It might have seemed like a good move when a local villager offered to pay for his bus ticket to Katmandu, but that trip was most certainly not to a better life. It was, of course, to a rug factory.
Binod’s story is familiar, but no less moving for being so. “There was so much pressure. The designs were so hard to learn,” says the child who now wants nothing more than to study hard to become a doctor and for whom learning at Hamro Ghar is a joyous experience. Oh yes, and there was the pain he has been trying so hard to forget. “Tying so many knots hurts so bad. We had to wash the blood off the rugs. We never stopped bleeding.” Wounded fingers, lack of sleep, beatings and endless work. That is Binod’s story. That is the story of forced child labor.
It’s evident no one and nothing can erase Binod’s memories of this twisted and downright Dickensian childhood. But the recuperative powers of children are well known and the power of loving attention, good nutrition and educational support he receives at Hamro Ghar are almost limitless. The brave little boy who dared to stand his ground when the factory manager ordered him to run from the inspector who would free him has this wise advice to share with other children who are in the prison of child labor. “Run away to a school… study and learn,” he says. “It’s the only way to a happier life.”