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CHILDREN OF BAL ASHRAM is a 64-minute documentary film on the life’s work of Sumedha Kailash, wife of the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Kailash Satyarthi, who has spent forty years rescuing children from bonded labor and child marriage. In 1998, they built Bal Ashram, a refuge for boys rescued from child labor. We see newly arrived child laborers welcomed into the community of their fellows, their nightmarish pasts receding amid the rough and tumble play, under the careful eye of Sumedha.
The children are taught that all are equal; caste and class are meaningless. Bal Ashram gives the children back their childhood and a mission to go out into the world and fight for enslaved children. The influence of Bal Ashram radiates out into the countryside, in numerous “Child-Friendly Villages” in which children’s councils participate in town government and prevent child marriages and child trafficking in their area. In the climax of the film a group of core marchers from Bal Ashram join Kailash and Sumedha on the 100 Million March – 11,000 kilometers across the entire expanse of India to protest child sexual exploitation and trafficking. The journey touched 5.5 million people, ending up at the Presidential Palace in Delhi. From slaves to the shock troops of the war against child labor, the children of Bal Ashram are indomitable – and extraordinarily charming.