Media Voices Releases its Latest Documentary

Kalpesh dancing with Rizwan © Sophia McCarron

Kalpesh dancing with Rizwan © Sophia McCarron

As the Vineyard winter tightens its grip, briefly let's hope, Media Voices has been preparing for the world premiere of our newest documentary Children of Bal Ashram at The Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival on March 21st. We are delighted and honored to lead off this year's festival with a showing for our friends and neighbors. Click here for tickets to screenings at 5pm on Thursday March 21st and 3:30pm on Saturday March 23rd.

Children of Bal Ashram – from slavery to the front lines of children's human rights 

I know over the years we have presented difficult subjects, child labor and forced labor, human slavery. Sometimes these films pose the question what can we do personally to help eliminate these abuses? Feelings of futility and anger can boil beneath the surface when you watch a film like Stolen Childhoods. But try to remember that SC was released in 2004 after seven years of filming. Today, times have changed and there are 100 million fewer children working like animals than the 250 million of 2004. There are also tens of millions of children in school that had never set foot in a classroom and two Nobel Laureates (Kailash Satyarthi and Malala Yousafzai) traveling the world speaking truth to power about child labor, trafficking, education and gender equality.

 Children of Bal Ashram moves this struggle and story into the present by following a group of survivors of child trafficking that are transformed into the shock troops in the war on child exploitation. The documentary is filled with love, family, music and inspiration... it is an essay on hope and determination that I guarantee won't leave you feeling helpless. We are taking pains to provide information and next steps to our audiences at our website.... to answer that question, what can I do to help make child labor obsolete?

 Screenings of the film have been scheduled at the University of Connecticut and for the students of Operation Days Work, nine schools in four states, that are working this year to support our Kenyan School House students' educations. The film has been entered into a dozen festivals – so now it takes on a life of its own. Once the film begins its release, we work in Washington to advance the policy priorities to support children – the filmmaking and lobbying are all a piece of the same cloth.

 For now the next critical piece to support Children of Bal Ashram will be the preparation of a 20-minute classroom version and study guide. A feature-length documentary is a great way to approach new audiences all over the world, but the action on the ground is with today's youth–tomorrow's leaders–and that takes us to schools and organizations all across the country.

 Just when we thought we could catch our breath a bit, we'll need to cut a version of the film that can fit into a one-hour class to stimulate dialogue about the issues and solutions our children will confront as they grow up. That's next on the agenda!