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Kailash Satyarthi founded Bachpan Bachao Andolan in 1980. BBA has successfully changed the fate of over 82,000 children rescued from exploitation, achieved important anti-child labor and anti-trafficking laws and raised awareness among the public. Raid and rescue operations to free child workers from unacceptable conditions have always been at the heart of our work. Early efforts have mainly been directed at children exploited in brick kilns, stone quarries and the carpet industry. An important milestone in our history marks the opening of Mukti Ahsram in 1990, which has been the first transit rehabilitation center for bonded child laborers. In 1997, BBA opened Bal Ashram in Rajasthan, which provides a long-term solution to former child laborers. In 1993, BBA initiated the first campaign in the form of a march against child labor. The 2,000 km Bihar-Delhi march raised awareness on the issue of child labor in the carpet industry. Other marches followed, with the historic Global March Against Child Labor in 1998 being the most impressive up to date. The 80,000 km long physical march crossed 103 countries and led to a high level of participation from the masses as well as the support of world leaders.
The development of the model of Bal Mitra Gram (Child Friendly Villages) in 2001 is also an example for BBA’s innovative approach. The implementation of the model into villages leads to the prevention and elimination of child labor in the long-run, among others through mechanisms such as the creation of an elected children’s assembly and its linkage with the village council, the enrollment of all children in school and community actions for change. Another on-going campaign, Mukti Caravan, has been launched in 2006. It is a “campaign on wheels” by former child laborers, trained in folks art and street theater. Since BBA has sent off the first Mukti Caravan, the activists have visited many villages, where they have created a better understanding of the need for education and the evil of trafficking and child labor.
The continued efforts of BBA have triggered the adoption of anti-child labor and anti-trafficking laws. Important milestones have been the ratification of the 1986 Enactment of Child Labor Act by the Parliament of India and the 1999 ILO Convention 182 on the elimination of the worst forms of child labor. The latter was adopted following the Global March Against Child Labor, which has culminated in Geneva and played a large role through its members and partners in the adoption of the convention.