BRADENTON — The slender Indian girl separated used plastic syringes from dirty needles to recycle them for her boss while the Indian boy sewed clothing in a sweatshop factory.
Atticus DeProspo, a junior at Pendleton School at IMG Academies, said he and some of his classmates recently watched a video of the children and learned nearly 15 million children in India are bonded laborers working for as little as a penny a day.
And they get no education.
DeProspo said it made him and his classmates sad, so they’re doing something about it.
The students, along with help from a local family, raised enough money at a recent auction to build three new schools in India.
The IMG Student Council hosted the fundraiser at Marina Jack and raised $19,455 for the schools. The money will be sent to Free the Children, a charitable organization that will use the money to build the schools and hire teachers. Karen and Jamie Moyer, who have six children who attend Pendleton, donated another $8,500.
Karen Moyer, whose husband, Jamie, plays baseball for the Philadelphia Phillies, heads up the Moyer Foundation based in Seattle.
“Our mission is to help children in distress,” said Karen Moyer, who has a home in Bradenton. “I visited the school to see what they did in the community here, what projects.” Moyer said she told the students about the work of Free the Children.
The couple has eight children, age 4-19. Two are adopted from Guatemala, where she first started doing mission work.
Kerri Grant, student council adviser, oversaw the project in which students got to choose a country to help children.
After watching a Free the Children video, the students picked India.
“We saw the children were forced to do child labor at such a young age and not get an education so we decided to do something about it,” DeProspo said. “In the U.S., everyone is given the chance for a free education at public schools. Think of how fortunate we are. It was an eye opener to all of us and it really touched our hearts.
“They make less than a penny a day. And if they don’t do their job correctly, they get hit,” DeProspo said, “To us, that was really sad to hear.”
Free the Children does charity around the world, but part of the focus includes rural Indian towns, which have the highest primary school dropout rate in India due to poor educational facilities, the need for children to work, and the lack of educational and health support. Approximately one out of every two to three children in the communities where Free the Children builds schools enter the work force rather than attend school.
At the auction gala to raise money to build the schools there was a football signed by New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, private lessons with tennis coaching legend Nick Bollettieri and an autographed headband by Denver Nuggets basketball star Carmelo Anthony.
All three schools will be built in the northwest province of Rajasthan, DeProspo said.
“We are so happy we raised that much money,” DeProspo said. “The only way to change this is to educate people, to show there is something out there and that they can have a better life. Hopefully this will help stop the cycle that’s been going on for centuries.”