The work of rescuing children from slavery is not for the faint of heart, as the twelve 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, thought to be a bad omen; 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; Sahiba was trafficked from Assam to be someone’s wife against her will; Kalu was abducted and made to weave carpets all day long, his injuries cauterized with phosphorus scraped off matchsticks; Bhavna was trapped in a circus, sexually abused for years by her owners; Rakesh was worked in the fields all year round like cattle, and spent the nights locked up with them in the stable; Sabo was born to labourers at a brick kiln, and never knew life outside it; and Manan lived his childhood mining mica in the forests of Jharkhand, barely given time to even mourn his friend who got buried when the mine caved in.
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. This book 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.