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On a mission against bondage

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FOR A CAUSE: Om Prakash Gurjar
FOR A CAUSE: Om Prakash Gurjar

Madhur Tankha

NEW DELHI: He used to work as a bonded labourer in the fields of Rajasthan to repay his grandfather's debt. One fine day, things changed dramatically for Om Prakash Gurjar after Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA) activists rescued him from bonded labour and gave him a new lease of life at Bal Ashram, a transit rehabilitation centre for rescued child labourers.

With his perseverance and hard work, Om Prakash has become a role model for children all over his State. He recently won the world's most prestigious children's award, "International Children's Peace Prize" for 2006. The prize was conferred on him by former South African President F. W. De Klerk in the Netherlands Parliament this past weekend.

Om Prakash, who is now studying in Class X at Ramanand Vidya Mandir in Alwar district, says: "Before visiting the Netherlands, I bought a book that had all the details about this European country. In the Netherlands I got an opportunity to make a number of friends and also visit places of historical interest."

He not only stood first in his class but also encouraged children of his native village, Dwarapur in Alwar district, to go to school. In fact, he has single-handedly used his leadership qualities to make his village a Bal Mitra Gram (Child-Friendly Village).

"I am encouraging children to go to school and working to make many more Bal Mitra Grams. I will work to support the families of child labourers so that the children can go to school and enjoy their childhood," says Om Prakash, who dreams of becoming a District Collector one day so that he can get all the children released from the bonds of "slavery'' and to make a child-friendly world.

A theatre artiste and singer, Om Prakash has also participated in "Cricket For Peace", an India-Pakistan youth cricket tournament to promote peace among the youth of the country through the gentleman's game.

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