The History Expedition 2006

The History Expedition started off on the 28th February 2006 from Bangalore cycling towards Chamarajnagar district and went up to Mandya ~ Madikeri ~ Dakshina Kannada ~ Udupi~ Uttara kannada ~ Canacona ~ {district of the state of Goa} ~Belgaum ~ Bagalokot ~ Bijapur ~ Gulbarga ~ Bidar ~ Raichur ~ Bellary ~ Koppal ~ Gadag ~ Dharwad~ Haveri ~ Davangere ~ Shimoga ~ Chikkamagalur ~ Chittradurga Hassan ~ Kolar~ Tumkur~Bangalore Rural district and Krishnagiri District of the State of Tamilnadu. The Hex team of 15 children and 3 facilitators, 2 technical staff comprised of

1. Santhosh 10 years
2. Jallali 11years
3. Prakash 12 Years
4. Kumar 12 Years
5. Nagaraj 12 years
6. Anthony Dass 13 years
7. Prashanth 13 years
8. Satish 12 years
9. Annand 12years
10. Raju 14 years
11. Muniyappa 14 years
12. Kiran 14 years
13. Raja J 15 years
14. Jayaram 16 years
15. Srinivas 17 years

Photography Facilitator-Mioi Nakayama
Artistic Director-John Devaraj

This effort covered a distance of 4040 kms in the three states of Karnataka, Goa and Tamil Nadu. About 25 000 pictures were made along with a history and information. The HEX also captured 32 hours on film live processes of working children.

The Hex was combining education and history writing for the Students of the Bornfree art school who were the photographers. Every Historical place of Karnataka was exposed and first hand studies were made The Bus mounted with 10 cycles would park at an important area of activity. The cycles were brought down and pairs of children would move off to various directions to photograph and record valuable information on the working children in the fields. It was indeed a commando operation, a task without much ado about it. The working processes had to be captured within the full presence of the employer. The result of this pioneering endeavor is path breaking, stunning and shocking. Many times the photographers were put into ordeals precarious situations and public pressure. Curious onlookers spreading unwanted information and rumors that we were there to catch children and take away their kidneys or forcefully put them into schools.

In Dharwad two of our photographers Jayaram and Raju were hand cuffed by the public, beaten and forcefully dragged to the police attention for interrogation, and later released after warning them not to create more trouble!

A painful realization dawns that this society lives and thrives on the labour of children intensively and extensively! It will also defend its action. If children don't work who will support the family say most of the drunken~ father unemployed ~ families! We can categorically say that there is no area of work, without the involvement of children in its production, marketing and distribution processes.

From the turmeric and Chillies in the curries, to the resins in your cake and Kesari bath,
The banana you love to eat, and the milk in your ice cream treat
The cotton in your pillow and the silk in your sari
The sugar in your tea and the coffee in your coffee,
The mutton that you relish and the fish fry for which you cry
The bricks in your building, and the grinding stone for your masala
The all utility steel which makes spoons and knives aeroplanes and cars, houses and skyscrapers.
Manganese and iron ore is dug up by six year old children in Sandur and Hospet
The gods and goddesses you worship to the puffed rice you offer as charity
The potato finger chips and aloo gobi you love to the drum sticks in your sambar
The great Indian tabla which Zakir Hussain plays, to the stone imitations at Halebid.
To provide a tatch over your head is the deft hand of a weaving child
The roses in for the valentines' day to the Jasmine delight
We saw children everywhere not playing not enjoying but toiling to feed a fat greedy society. 40% of the workforce is children producing 40% of the gross national product.
In Hampi we saw in an acre of sugarcane fields 35 children under the age of 12 weeding just by the side of the Anubava Mantapa of Basavanna. By the side of the Lotus Mahal is a big banana plantation where we encountered 22 children harvesting Banana bunches each weighing 20 to 25 kilos on their tiny heads. The youngest worker was 6years old.

We love to eat bananas, but behind every banana that we peel to eat is the toiling tiny hand of a child. In the documentary film the kids say "Baalle hannu thinnuvaga nammanu mareyabeedi (Don't forget us while we eat bananas)". Dry grapes making is a big job in Bijapur, tones and tones of the famous Bijapur grapes are under huge black tents. Under this Big Black tents of exploitation are again small children separating and grading the resins for a rupee a kilo.

Simiarly in Banglore rural district we saw The White Ghost tents Tonnes of roses that comes to Bangalore flower market and exported to the world. Roses that express love and friendship are plucked and packed kids, Later on Mahathma Gandhi road they sold by another group of children. Bricks roads are ideas of men and the hands of children everywhere. So much so the houses and cities we live in the roads that rolls on are the labour of children.

This is the new history made by the students of the Bornfree Art School. It has made these former child laborers into powerful artists and now thinks about liberating all toiling children through their art. They think and express through poetry (They produced more than 100 poems about child labour). The bus called "The Flower Power Express" which carried the cycles became a traveling school. The direct study of every corner of Karnataka, her land, her rivers, her flora and fauna, her people and her historical monuments was an enriching experience. The traveling school everyday through discussions and debate developed critical thinking, self analysis, and collective criticism of the individual works of each participant. The exhibition on display will express these experiences.

After the tour, photographers made ten-minute movies in which they are narrating each history of the working child. They conceptualized the entire film on their own, wrote the script, played drums or sang the relevant songs in the film. 25 best photographs (20 cm X 30 cm) are printed and the two large flex prints (3m X 5 m) are produced. In this process, they had to overcome the difficulty of reading and writing. As a result of the educational tour, 12 children in the first batch decided to go back to the formal education. Anthony Das, 13 is now studying the 7th standard at the St. Joseph's Indian High School, one of the most prestigious schools in India and is replaced back home. Meanwhile, he comes to Bornfree and teaches drumming to children. Satish, 14, is now studying the 6th standard at the Maria Niketan School. Many more are now in the National Child Labour Project where they are preparing for the 7th standard exams. Bigger children like Jayaram and Srinivas are now appearing the 10th standard of the Karnataka Open School.

Photographs are now on sale, which can help students to support their education and family. International Labour Organization is now utilizing HEX photos for their publications. A Singaporean High School organized the HEX exhibition in 2006 and they sold 30 photographs. Each child earned from Rs.2000 (US 50) - Rs. 10000 (US 250) and they are saving it in their own bank accounts.

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