Written by Brigitte Franssen Illustrated by Jef Franssen
The newspaper lay on the front door mat. She dreaded it. The last few weeks, months rather, reading the newspaper had only made her sad. She had already giving up on reading the daily newspaper. The newspaper that was now lying on the front door mat was a weekly edition.
After breakfast she sat down with a nice cup of tea while some soft music played on the radio. She opened the newspaper. Better not to read the front page. On page three there was an article about Bangladesh. Immediately rich highlands with evergreen forests where the Bengal tiger roams sprang to her mind and people dressed in vibrant colours, eating exotic fruits, living alongside other exotic animals in a delta of mighty rivers. But that was not what the article was about. Instead of describing a paradise on earth the article described a 19th century Dickensian England.
Children, as young as eight, don't have homework from school but jobs. A little job here and there might actually be more enjoyable and educational than years spent in schools. But these children work in factories, tanneries to precise. Producing leather that is in demand across Europe and the US the Bangladeshi children are exposed to all kind of toxins and soaked to the skin. Apart from heavy metals like chromium, cadmium, lead and mercury the tanneries discharge a conglomerate of chemicals into the environment. Breathing the toxic fumes the children who live in the slums that surround the factories eat and live in these noxious surroundings.
There are other factories that employ children as well. These factories - for plastics recycling, garments and metals - have complex risk hazards from cotton dust, heavy metals and chemicals like mercury, phthalates, acids and dioxins and ergonomic hazards. No protective equipment or clothing is provided.
Who or what created this misery? Why does history keep repeating itself? Is it plain and simple human greed or a lack of respect - for others as well as the world we live on? Are wrong morals and values, or a lack of morals, ethical education and guidance to blame? Is our shortsightedness, or plain stupidity the root cause of this continuous hell on earth?
She didn't know why the same horrible things kept happening over and over again and doubted if anybody knew.
All she knew was what would be in tomorrow's newspaper and it wasn't going to make her happy.