Art And Culture

Charity Auction of Paintings by Children in Labor

School is like heaven for working children as it takes them away for some time from the daily grind of selling wares and grappling with different social harm
A young girl shows her painting at the exhibit.  A young girl shows her painting at the exhibit.

A charity auction of paintings by children of labor displayed at the exhibition ‘I Painted My City Air Blue’ was held at Tehran’s Arasbaran Cultural Center on January 22.

Supported by the NGO and social campaign ‘Lonelier With Negligent Guardians’, the auction and exhibition included 150 paintings created on the issue of clean air by 150 students from schools for children in labor in the capital city, Honaronline reported.

“We have gathered here today to keep working kids motivated and hopeful, and stir people’s conscience not to forget humanity,” said actress Mahnaz Afshar, the spokesperson of the campaign. 

“Even though some may say we are just showing off, I am still here to tell at least one person that the children of our land are the ones who make the future of this country and they should receive enough attention and affection,” she added.

A number of actors, singers and athletes attended the event and purchased the artworks. Poet Yaghma Golrouee, singers Khashayar Etemadi and Yaser Bakhtiari, actors Kamand Amirsoleimani, Nafiseh Roshan and Saman Guran, TV hosts Sara Rustapur and Morteza Yaraqbafan, kick boxing champion Mehdi Safaei and speed skater champion Negin Dadkhah were among the participants. The proceeds will be dedicated to the education of working children. 

The children whose works were shown at the event live in dysfunctional families and suffer from extreme poverty, malnutrition and parental ignorance, addiction, illness and mental health problems, as well as divorce, death or absence of one parent, usually the father.  

In order to make a living for themselves and their families, they have to work most of the time and have little time to attend school. Due to the poor conditions of life at home, most of them live with grandparents or a relative, and also in deprivation. There also they face problems doing their homework and are often pushed onto the streets to earn a living.

Nearly 15,000 working children mostly from municipal districts 2, 12, 14, 16, 17, 18, and 19, were registered in schools across Tehran in the past two years. 

According to the Majlis Research Center, as many as 3 million or 22% of Iranian children under the age of 18 are not attending school and at least half of them (1.5 million) are said to be in the work force.  

The first private school for street children named ‘Sobh-e-Ruyesh’ was established in 2014 by an NGO ‘Tarannome Sobh-e-Sepid’ in the deprived Darvazeh Ghar neighborhood in District 12, and 165 street children were enrolled. 

During the current academic year (started September), four new schools are to be constructed for street children in districts 12 and 18.

 School is Like Heaven

School is like heaven for working children as it gives them some time for themselves and takes them away from the daily grind of selling wares and grappling with different social harm. School is in fact a safe haven where they can be children, and forget “the burdens and responsibility of grown-ups.”

Launched last July by a number of social activists, TV and cinema actors, as well as artists to help protect children with negligent or abusive parents, the ‘Lonelier With Negligent Guardians’ campaign was initiated to raise awareness on the plight of child abuse and neglect in the country, and its ensuing social harm. It aims to propagate ways to identify child abuse cases, report them, and support the victims.

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