Gayatri Parameswaran (India) & Felix Gaedtke (Germany)
“We first met the boys in 2012 when they were 11 years old. When we met them in the summer of 2014, it was disconcerting to find out that they had both dropped out of school. The boys were now working their mornings at the wholesale market and the rest of the day as construction site workers.”
Mahesh and Venkatesh, both 14 years old, are two migrant working children in southern India. They are different from a large majority of their coworkers – they are part of a working children’s union called Bhima Sangha. The project of Indian journalist Gayatri Parameswaran and German journalist Felix Gaedtke aims to track these two Indian boys’ journey from adolescence into adulthood in the form of an immersive, interactive website with a series of multimedia elements like photographs, videos, graphics and audio.
„We met in 2009 as part of an international group of students at the Erasmus Mundus Masters in Journalism (with a specialism in War and Conflict Reporting). During this time we collaborated for different projects during university and assisted each other’s research for our Masters theses in Myanmar (Burma). We not only complimented each other’s work but also needed each other’s assistance in certain specific professional areas.
This is why we truly understand and support what hostwriter wishes to do. Often as a lone freelance journalist one can feel paralysed by the challenges of a story, but the right collaboration can turn these challenges into opportunities and the result is a much better journalistic product. In hindsight, it seems impossible to have done the work we’ve accomplished (and wish to do in the future) without each other’s support.”
„According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), around 168 million children around the world are involved in child labour. India has one of the highest number of working children in the world.Mahesh and Venkatesh, both 14 years old, are two migrant working children in southern India. They are different from a large majority of their coworkers – they are part of a working children’s union called Bhima Sangha.
Bhima Sangha is India’s only such union and the first of its kind in Asia. It empowers working children by educating them about their rights. The Bhima Sangha was formed by the Concerned for Working Children (CWC), a Bangalore-based NGO, which believes in strengthening the rights of working children as long as poverty cannot be eradicated. Mahesh and Venkatesh not only fight for their rights as working children, but also represent their community when it comes to crucial issues such as lack of running water, electricity etc.
Over the past two years, we’ve managed to build a trustworthy relationship with Mahesh, Venkatesh, their friends and families. We’ve secured unhindered access into their lives – the biggest hurdle for any longer-term journalism project. We’ve also gathered material from their daily lives (in different audio-visual formats). The challenge now is to continue this relationship, and build a platform that is an effective tool for communicating our findings.” (G. Parameswaran & F. Gaedtke)