CHILDHOOD REGAINED – Stories of Hope for Asian Child Workers

Childhood Regained2_largeCHILDHOOD REGAINED – Stories of Hope for Asian Child Workers is a collection of 20 short stories and a poem, all written specifically for this anthology to raise awareness of the plight of millions of young children working long hours in factories, mines, quarries, on city streets, and on commercial farms in Asia.

FOR SCHOOLS EDITIONS, CLICK HERE.

The editor and writers have all donated their time and skills for free, and all net proceeds from the North American edition of this anthology go to SOS Children’s Villages, http://www.soschildrensvillages.ca.

Proceeds from the UK Edition go to Childreach International.

UK Edition in print   UK Edition Ebook

See the book at Childreach International – Taught, Not Trafficked.

The moving but hopeful stories in this anthology focus on life in South Asia — India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Bangladesh — where still today, in 2016, children as young as four or five are forced to work up to 16 hours a day under very difficult conditions, often with meagre food and very poor sleeping accommodations.

Near the end of the book, you’ll find brief factual information on children working in various sectors in South Asia, study questions with possible answers for each story, and practical, easy ways you can help this situation.

All 20 stories and one poem were written specifically for this anthology by writers in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., Sweden, Malta, Australia, and India, and have not been published anywhere else.

Target readership is age eleven through adult.

Governments and charitable organizations are working to reduce the exploitation of disadvantaged children and improve the working conditions for young workers, but reforms cost money. Our aim is to try to help the situation by raising awareness and by contributing the proceeds from this anthology to a highly respected, trustworthy charity that works to improve the lives of young children exploited for profit.

All net proceeds from sales of this anthology go to help children through:

SOS Ch.Vill._logo

Published May 10, 2016. ISBN: 978-0993700446

Prices on Amazon.com: Trade paperback – $14.95; Kindle – $3.95

Middle-grade and high school teachers, school librarians, school administrators, public librarians, and booksellers, please contact info@CobaltBooks.net for a free review/sample copyYou can also purchase class sets of this anthology at a discount of 40% off list price.

Click here to read excerpts from the stories: Childhood Regained – EXCERPTS

To purchase a copy of the book, go to any Amazon site, including:

Childhood Regained on Amazon.com

Childhood Regained on Amazon UK

Childhood Regained on Amazon.ca

Booksellers, educators, and librarians can purchase copies of the book wholesale at: Ingram Content Group, Baker & Taylor, CreateSpace Direct, Red Tuque Books, or Cobalt Books.

To listen to two (so far) of the stories read aloud by master raconteur Bob Daun, please go to Bob’s Short Story Hour and click on Episodes 7 & 8.

To read a full-page review of Childhood Regained in the weekly Asian Journal, out of Surrey, BC, Canada, click on this link, wait for the issue to load, then go to page 14.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

FOREWORD by Timothy Hallinan

INTRODUCTION by Jodie Renner

SANJAY’S MOUNTAIN by Steve Hooley

WHEN THE RAINS COME by Caroline Sciriha

SEEDS OF SLAVERY by Eileen Hopkins

THE GHOST BAZAAR by Barbara Hawley

MY NAME IS RAJ by Lori Duffy Foster

INTAHARI – Confessions of a Suicide Bomber by Peter Eichstaedt

DREAMS ARE FOR SLEEP by Tom Combs

SOME NIGHTS, I WAKE UP CRYING by Patricia Anne Elford

TREASURE OF THE MIND by D. Ansing

THE TORN CARPET by Caroline Sciriha

LIFE STUDY IN CHARCOAL by E.M. Eastick

RAJESH’S GARDEN by Della Barrett and Jodie Renner

RIVER OF LIFE by Steve Hooley

NAMASTE (poem) by Fern G.Z. Carr

FUNNY DANCE by Sanjay Deshmukh

FLOWERS by Hazel Bennett

BRICK BY BRICK by Kym McNabney

DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK by Rayne Kaa Hedberg

DREAMS OF ARSENAL by Edward Branley

INVISIBLE by Sarah Hausman

FROZEN TEARS by Steve Hooley

GUIDELINES FOR TEACHERS & LIBRARIANS

STUDY QUESTIONS FOR THE STORIES

BRIEF FACTUAL INFORMATION

KEY TO STUDY QUESTIONS

GLOSSARY

BUT WHAT CAN I DO? – HOW YOU CAN HELP

PRAISE FOR CHILDHOOD REGAINED

“The central theme of the Childhood Regained anthology concerns one of our world’s darkest yet most deeply hidden problems. These are tales that demand to be widely read, written by authors who deserve the widest possible audience. You can’t read these stories and remain passive about the current state of child labor in Asia, or anywhere, really. Strongly recommended.”

~ Joe Hartlaub, Bookreporter.com

 

“The Childhood Regained writers are heroes among us. Their stories shine a haunting light on the plight of too many children. And yet, alongside the terror and grief in these stories are the inklings of hope – because in reading them it is all but certain that our collective call to action on behalf of these children will be ignited. Read, read, read this book – you, and let’s hope the world, will never be the same for it.”

~ Dr. Vanessa Lapointe, R. Psych., bestselling author of Discipline without Damage: How to get your kids to behave without messing them up. www.drvanessalapointe.com

 

“Each well-researched story in Childhood Regained is rooted in the point of view of child workers, starting with the harsh realities of their lives and reaching hope-filled, satisfying conclusions. Yet, the contributing authors from around the world, with their unique writing styles, avoid clichéd, predictable, or overly sweet endings. For young readers, the poignant cover image and evocative sensory details in the writing will draw them into the book. They will be impacted by being exposed to the unfamiliar worlds in these transformative stories. As the characters experience hardship, then rescue, education that brings hope, and childhood joys restored, the reader may gain a new appreciation for all they have and a desire to help make a difference in the world. Highly recommended.”

~ Karen Autio, award-winning author of books for young readers: historical novels Second Watch, Saara’s Passage, and Sabotage; chapter book Kah-Lan the Adventurous Sea Otter; and picture book Growing Up in Wild Horse Canyon www.karenautio.com

 

“I have been reading the anthology, Childhood Regained, with my grade seven class. Although some of the subject matter has been a little disturbing, my students have been intrigued by the stories presented. This is mainly due to the fact that the stories are current and based on the real-life circumstances of children around the world who are suffering and surviving conditions and crises that we, in Western society cannot even fathom, as a reality.

“The school at which I teach has recently received an influx of Syrian newcomers, many of which do not speak any English, and therefore it is impossible for my students or myself to communicate with them to the extent to which we can even hope to understand what they must have experienced, and at such a young age. A book such as Childhood Regained, delivers the truth and does not spare us those unpleasant details that we find so difficult to face. I feel this is crucially important and instrumental in instilling compassion and awareness in our students, especially in this day and age, when we are integrating people who have suffered trauma unimaginable, in relation to our reality.

“A story that my students found particularly poignant, which demanded the attention of all, and which generated extensive thought and discussion was ‘Intahari, Confessions of a Suicide Bomber’. It was so interesting to see how my grade seven students initially took it quite lightly and even amused themselves with some of the more graphic details of the story (the way they would while playing a video game or watching an explicitly violent movie) until they realized that this story was based on current and real-life situations, situations that they have never and hopefully will never have to experience in their own life times. By the end of the story, feelings of anger, sadness and ultimately joy and relief were evoked. I actually witnessed them growing from the experience.

“While journeying through the book, Childhood Regained, my students have gained a higher level of empathy and increased global awareness. I feel that this is a very important piece of literature and I am excited and driven to share and to recommend it to other educators and students.”

~ Natalie Brown, Grade Seven Teacher, Emily Carr School, London, Ontario, Canada

 

“Kudos to Jodie Renner and the authors of Childhood Regained for shedding light on the human trafficking crisis that continues to plague our world. This book is packed with compelling stories that reflect the horrific realities of modern day slavery, while demonstrating that people who care can, and are, bringing change and hope.”

~ Susan Miura, author, reviewer for The Book Report, public relations coordinator for a Chicago suburban library, presenter of “Modern Day Slavery,” and Vice President of the ACFW Chicago Chapter. www.susanmiura.com

 

Childhood Regained reveals the plight of Asian child workers, tempered by end-notes of hope. Filtered through a lens of short stories, the anthology narrates the lives of children who struggle under circumstances darker and more desperate than any Grimm’s fairy tale. Facing mountainous odds, the child in each story undertakes an arduous journey in search of a hopeful future. The stories in Childhood Regained are inspired by the struggles of actual Asian child workers. Important reading for everyone.”

~ Kathryn Lilley, author and founder of The Kill Zone blog

“A collection of well-written short stories that highlight the plight of child workers. The plots and characters are credible and compelling: it is clear that the authors have done their research. Although the stories themselves end on a positive note, they cause the reader to reflect on the millions of children whose stories do not end well; thus the book elegantly achieves its aim of simultaneously entertaining and informing the reader. The authors have generously donated their royalties to child rescue charities. There is a useful section that details the facts and figures relating to child exploitation and slavery, and information about how to donate to related charities.”

~ Pat Schembri Wismayer, English teacher, secondary level, Malta

Childhood Regained is a must-read for global awareness. This anthology raises awareness about the horrible issue of child labor and abuse in South Asia. Teachers and librarians will find the study questions, factual information, and other resources very helpful. This poignantly written collection belongs in classrooms, living rooms and libraries. Highly recommended.”

~ Jan Coultas, 10th grade teacher, Ventura, California

To read a full-page review of Childhood Regained in the weekly Asian Journal, out of Surrey, BC, Canada, click on this link, wait for the issue to load, then click to page 14.

To listen to two (so far) of the stories read aloud on podcasts, go to Bob’s Short Story Hour and check out Episodes 7 & 8.

To read EXCERPTS from the stories,

click on this link: Childhood Regained – EXCERPTS

BRIEF DESCRIPTIONS OF THE STORIES

TREASURE OF THE MIND by D. Ansing

Thirteen-year-old Diya lives in rural India where she and her mother earn money doing mehndi—drawing henna tattoos on hands and feet for special occasions. When her mother falls ill, Diya agrees to work for a salon owner in the city, believing it is her chance to become a premier mehndi artist and send money home. In the salon owner’s home, Diya is no more than a domestic slave. She endures grueling labor and demeaning abuse, is made to sleep in a tiny windowless closet, and given only table scraps to eat. Diya asks to return home and is crushed when told she is the salon owner’s property, sold by her mother in a bonded labor agreement. Soon after, the salon owners depart for vacation, leaving Diya locked inside their house. Food runs out and she attempts to escape.

SANJAY’S MOUNTAIN by Steve Hooley

Nine-year-old Sanjay lives at the foot of Chomolungma, the mother of the world, Mt. Everest, in Nepal. When his father, a Sherpa guide on the mountain, is killed in an avalanche, his family begins to unravel. His mother leaves the family for a new husband. His sister is sold into the sex trade. And Sanjay is sold to the owner of a carpet shack in Kathmandu, where he works long hours tying the tiny carpet knots, hands bleeding. After much soul searching, Sanjay finds the courage to escape and begins the path to higher education and his own mountain to conquer.

WHEN THE RAINS COME by Caroline Sciriha

Nine-year-old Sita works with her father in a stone quarry in India. Her mother is ill and the family cannot pay for the medical help she so desperately needs. The only solution is to ask the quarry owner for a loan, but this means Sita’s brother will also have to drop out of school to work in order to make ends meet and repay the loan. When Sita averts a tragic accident at the quarry, she breaks her arm and will not be able to work for a number of weeks. How will the family survive?

BRICK BY BRICK by Kym McNabney

Anika, a twelve-year-old girl from India, is devastated when her alcoholic father pawns her off to a broker like some type of animal. If her mother had survived Anika’s birth, perhaps her father would not hand her over to a man she never met. Mr. Kumar, the broker, takes her to his brick-making yard, where she is forced to live in a cramped dormitory with others. Anika befriends Prisha, a worker in Mr. Kumar’s brick company. Anika works from sunup to sundown, never forgetting her brother’s vow to one day rescue her.

INVISIBLE by Sarah Hausman

Nine-year-old Sumeet leaves his home in a small village to go to work in a carpet factory in Kathmandu, Nepal. Hoping to help his family, Sumeet enters into a life of long work hours, hunger, and bullying from an older boy, Nirav. Alone and afraid, Sumeet meets twelve-year-old Ashna, who becomes his closest friend. Together, Sumeet and Ashna find ways to survive the factory life. But when Ashna falls ill, Sumeet isn’t sure he can make it alone.

THE GHOST BAZAAR by Barbara Hawley

Small and swift eleven-year-old Anha sells fruit in an illegal hawking zone near the train station of Mumbai, India. If the police conduct a surprise raid, Anha can bundle up her tarp and flee. Anha’s desperate family depends on the wages she earns selling fruit from the hot pavement. One fateful day, the vendors’ wares are ruined during a raid. A golden ring dropped on Anha’s tarp sends her on a hasty pursuit and she gets the ride of her life. In a city ruled by corruption and greed, a young girl’s honesty wins out, changing her family’s entire future.

SEEDS OF SLAVERY by Eileen Hopkins

Ten-year-old Daksha runs home from her school and finds her mother in tears. Mama tells Daksha that her father has left them. Daksha sees her father’s empty alcohol bottle of alcohol on the floor and smells the lingering odour of droplets that have soaked into the hem of Mama’s skirt. It is as if a whirlwind of dust blowing in from the cottonseed fields has crashed through her home, destroying her hopes. Daksha must travel to a big farm where she works alongside many other children sprinkling pollen on the white flowers of the cottonseed plants – pollen that is like magical fairy dust that turns the flowers into valuable cottonseeds. It does not feel like magic to Daksha.

RIVER OF LIFE by Steve Hooley

Twelve-year-old Joran lives in Varanasi, the spiritual capital of India, where pilgrims bathe in the sacred waters of the Ganges River. When both of Joran’s parents die in a boating accident, he is left with no family to care for him and totally at the mercy of the social service system. When a corrupt social service employee diverts him from the orphanage and sells him to Gari, the junkyard man, Joran is doomed to a life of welding broken auto parts. Joran descends into depression and considers throwing himself into the Ganges River, but fellow indentured servants give him hope as they use their resources and wits to devise a vehicle of escape, right beneath the nose of Gari.

SOME NIGHTS, I WAKE UP CRYING – by Patricia Anne Elford

Laila’s mother sends her, with their last coins, to the market for some fruit, lentils and rice. When a man bumps into her, her coins roll into the dust. Street boys grab them and run. Laila weeps. An apparently kind woman suggests Laila do a little job to regain the lost money, then takes her to a carpet factory. A rough man sets her to work, among rows of children, knotting, to make rugs. With only two brief breaks to eat and drink water, the children work 16-hour days. Twice, all of the children have to go down quickly through a trapdoor and huddle together silently in a horrible room under the floor, until the bosses call them back up. Laila worries. “Will I ever see Mama again? Will I be trapped here forever?

THE TORN CARPET by Caroline Sciriha

Thirteen-year-old Hari works as a carpet weaver in a factory in Nepal. Life is hard. He invents and narrates a fairy tale in order to raise the spirits of two other child workers—little Maiya and Laila, who is unwell. The fairy tale involves a cantankerous genie and Ali, who needs to repair a magic carpet. The genie and Ali fly to Nepal to find the carpet weaver who can mend the torn carpet. Fairy tale and reality mesh when an inspector calls at the factory.

DREAMS ARE FOR SLEEP by Tom Combs

An estimated 300,000 people survive as ragpickers in the dumps of Mumbai, India. More than a third are under the age of fourteen.

Meena is a nine-year-old girl who has never known any life other than squalor and scavenging to survive. Her sister was taken two years earlier and Menna’s mother has said it is best to forget her. Her sister’s memory and a wondrous story from the pages of a book occupy Meena’s thoughts on a sweltering day amidst the garbage of Mumbai.

NAMASTE, a poem by Fern G. Z. Carr

Sandeep, a young boy, is kidnapped by traffickers and forced to work in the Meghalaya coal mines. While Sandeep yearns to be faithful to the teachings of his father, lessons of thankfulness and respect, his life is in turmoil. How can Sandeep be grateful while facing hardships that no child should ever be forced to face? How can he be optimistic in his subterranean world as he is forced to crawl through rat holes fourteen hours a day? The arrival of an aid worker allows Sandeep the chance to resume his childhood and finally give himself permission to honour his father’s memory.

LIFE STUDY IN CHARCOAL by E.M. Eastick

Thirteen-year-old Sanjeev is smart and spirited. His twelve-year-old brother Rajit is an introvert with a consuming fascination for drawing. If Sanjeev can’t motivate his brother to work, they risk falling behind in their shared job of ‘distressing’ jeans with chemicals in the basement of a Dhaka garment factory. And if they fall behind, not only will the factory owner beat them, but he may throw the brothers out on the street.

When a fire starts in the factory, Sanjeev bravely helps other factory workers escape the blaze, but when he can’t find Rajit, Sanjeev is distraught and overcome with the guilt of believing that he and his brother are responsible for the fire. It’s only when Sanjeev learns the truth about the fire and his brother’s fate that he can let go of the past and look to the future.

INTAHARI: CONFESSIONS OF A SUICIDE BOMBER by Peter Eichstaedt

Abdul, a young Afghan boy of fourteen, is distraught when the Taliban closes the government-run school in his village. It’s the latest in a series of blows Abdul has suffered in his short life. His aunt was accused of promiscuity and stoned. His mother later died of heartbreak at the loss of her sister. His older brother was judged by the Taliban to be spy and executed. When Abdul is falsely accused of theft, the Taliban gives him a choice: Lose a hand and live a life of shame; or become a suicide bomber and die a glorious death. Out of this dangerous dilemma, Abdul forms a plan save himself and find the justice he craves.

FLOWERS by Hazel Bennett

Ria, a twelve-year-old girl, works in a quarry in India, where she is friendless and in permanent discomfort and unhappiness because the child slaves are overworked, underfed, and severely punished. They are powerless to rebel and fearful to escape. Finally, the children are rescued by police, who take them to a boarding school where Ria sees flowers for the first time. Elated by their beauty, she is encouraged to pick up the pieces of her life and find happiness, and gradually she learns to trust and reach out to others.

DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE DARK by Rayne Kaa Hedberg

Dhaval is an eleven-year-old boy living in India with his mother and younger sisters in the slums. Their compromised situation takes a grim turn when his baby sister becomes ill and they can’t afford to take her to the doctor. Dhaval is faced with a difficult choice. Either he has to give up his relatively safe employment at the factory for a better-paying but hazardous job at the mine, or his sister could die without a doctor’s care. Being the eldest, Dhaval reluctantly decides to work at the mine with his friend. But what will happen once the mine starts to rumble?

FROZEN TEARS by Steve Hooley

Pramita, a ten-year-old Nepalese girl, is sold into the sex trade by her uncle, after her father dies and her mother leaves with a new husband. In her new home in New Delhi, all hope and emotion is lost. When she is transferred to a sewing factory by her owner to entertain the inspector and keep a crumbling building open, life becomes even worse as she fears for her life. Her brother Sanjay, whom she has not seen for eleven years and who is now a medical student, reenters her life with a plan for her escape. A daring attempt at switched identity and disappearance is prevented by the collapse of Pramita’s factory and a fight for her life.

MY NAME IS RAJ by Lori Duffy Foster

For years, twelve-year-old Sanjana has worked at a hotel in Mumbai, India, preparing food for rich people while her own body wastes away. She is not allowed to leave the building and she doesn’t dare try to escape. The city streets frighten her and she has nowhere to go. Still, the long hours, the cruel treatment, and the isolation were bearable until a few months ago when her best friend, a boy one year older, became sick. The cook deemed him useless and ordered him dumped on the streets. To protect herself, Sanjana vows never to love anyone again. And she keeps that vow until a small boy comes into the sweltering kitchen and into her life.

DREAMS OF ARSENAL by Edward Branley

Kunal is a thirteen-year-old boy from Chennai in South India. Sold by his parents to child-labor trafficker at age eleven, he was sent to Hyderabad, in central India, and forced to work in a tiny sweatshop, where children make cheap brass costume jewelry. His life goes from that of a farm boy to a slave, trapped in two rooms, with inadequate food, little exercise, almost no contact with the outside world. Kunal “escapes” from his situation by retreating into his mind while he works, dreaming of the soccer matches from England he listened to on the radio before he was sold into slavery. His dreams, along with listening to conversations on the street next to the sweatshop, help him cope. Kunal struggles to “fit in” with the other child-slaves, but always returns to his dreams, waiting for the chance to break away.

FUNNY DANCE by Sanjay Deshmukh

Ten-year-old Vijay’s parents work for a firecracker factory in India, while he and his younger siblings go to school. When his father is injured in the factory and unable to work for three months, the household cannot survive only on the mother’s salary, especially with the added medical expenses. She persuades Vijay to work for three months in a home-based firecracker unit. His father, meanwhile, is also diagnosed with a lung disease, which prevents him from returning to the factory. Vijay continues working, progressing in two years from cutting and pasting paper to the dangerous job of mixing chemicals to prepare gunpowder for firecrackers. His only escape lies in entertaining himself and the other children in stolen moments with his silly songs and funny dances.

RAJESH’S GARDEN by Della Barrett and Jodie Renner

Ten-year-old Anjali is eaten up by guilt for taking longer to fetch the water from far-away the stream the day her brother got thirsty and drank stagnant pond water instead. The contaminated water caused him to fall ill and die. The family lost their only son. Anjali, in a state of depression, ignores her chores and her beloved garden and drinks the pond water too. As she lies weakened and ill, a volunteer group from Canada that has adopted the village arrives to dig a well and build hand-washing stations and latrines. Two of them visit Anjali with other gifts that restore her will to live.