When I was in school, we learned that what we in the Developed World call child labor, is necessitated by survival needs in that part of the world.  It is heart breaking to see children under these conditions. Until we all make meaningful changes for children, we will continue to see children like those documented in “A Childhood up in Smoke“.

Untold Stories

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Pay close attention next time you light up a cigarette. Maybe you can feel the bitter taste of child labour.

The sun is in zenith, and drops of sweat are shining like diamonds on Obrey Banda’s (11) forehead. It is harvest time, and Obrey is working in the tobacco-field like the rest of his family. The boy is using straw to tie two fresh leaves of Burley tobacco together. This way his mother, Florence can hang them to dry.

Big brother Maupo (17) tosses a new load of leaves in front of Obrey. The sore skin of the child-labourers hands tells a painful story of countless hours in the field.

Today, Malawian tobacco is found in blends of nearly every cigarette smoked in industrialised nations including the popular and ubiquitous Camel and Marlboro brands.

Without knowing it Obrey and his family are contributors to the world’s most tobacco dependent economy…

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