The work of rescuing children from slavery is not for the faint of heart, as the 12 gut-wrenching accounts in this book will show. Harder still is to give them their life back, after they’ve been kidnapped, trafficked, sold, abused and made to work in horrific conditions, often for as long as they can remember.
Pradeep was offered up for human sacrifice by his family; Devli was a third-generation slave in a stone quarry in Haryana, who had never seen a banana before her rescue; Ashraf, a domestic child labourer at a senior civil servant’s house, was starved and scalded as punishment; and Manan lived his childhood mining mica in the forests of Jharkhand. Kailash Satyarthi’s own life and mission were entwined with the journeys of these children. Having lived through unspeakable trauma, they had lost faith in humanity. But behind their reticence, behind their scraggy limbs and calloused hands and feet, hope still endured.
‘Why Didn’t You Come Sooner?’ tells the story of their shared struggle for justice and dignity — from the raid and rescue operations of Satyarthi’s Bachpan Bachao Andolan to international campaigns for child rights. It is a testament both to the courage of the human spirit and to the power of compassion.
(Published 14 October 2023, 22:58 IST)